Jacco Gardner – “The Ballad of Little Jane”
Jacco Gardner seems to think it’s still the late ’60s, when eccentric songwriters like Syd Barrett and Donovan took to the studio with a frighteningly brilliant psych-infused nonchalance. Psychedelia was being primarily melded into forms of rock at the time, but artists like Donovan and The Kinks incorporated folk aspects as well. Gardner seems fully appreciative of that on “The Ballad of Little Jane”, a highlight off his new album Cabinet of Curiosities. You won’t find any reliance on guitar here; stabbing organs, dopey bass movements, and whimsically enchanting keyboard melodies comprise the effort instead, complementing a voice that sounds like an eerie mixture of Barrett and Donovan. Gardner’s vocal approach is perfect for his musical approach, and unlike other theatrical psychedelic revivalist peers like Bryan Scary he maintains a slightly deadpan effect on the lead throughout. Gardner’s backing vocal melodies, full of the “boop-boop-bop” and “da-da-dop” sort of harmonizing, help create plenty of vocal variation — not that his beautifully constructed arrangements need any more help. Cabinet of Curiosities is one of the few ’60s revivalist psychedelia albums that actually manages to sound nostalgically rewarding, thanks to stellar hooks and a convincingly vintage atmosphere.