Case Hardin, playing together off and on for almost 10 years, have finally done a full length album. The title is understated, almost an afterthought. The songs tell the traumas of the drunken outsider, lost looking for the right girl or any girl. They're hammered down hard and fast, with help from various leading lights of UK Americana, including Pat McGarvey who singer Pete Gow plays with in Southern Tenant Folk Union, and the sweet Sophia Marshall . All in all, it balances grit with enough polish, rock n roll with enough twang, softness with enough edge. Worth waiting these years for, for sure, and worth a listen. [8 out of 10] --Americana UK
Some Tunes For Charlie Spencer is the fi rst full- length album from Reading band, Case Hardin. Ten perfectly executed, spontaneous and organic cuts that skillfully draw elements from rock, americana, country and folk. Recorded at Escapade Studios in Greenwich, London by the core band of songwriter Pete Gow (guitar, harmonica) and Del Skinner (guitars, bass, mandolin, pedal steel), together with ex- Cotton Mather drummer Dana Myzer. Many of the tracks were fl eshed out by stunning contributions from co-producer Gary Brady (piano, keyboards, bass, accordion, glockenspiel), Gemma Cumming (fi ddle) and Southern Tenant Folk Union, of which Gow is also a member, leader Pat McGarvey (bass). Formed back in 1999, Case Hardin take their name from the female lead in Boston Teran s noir thriller God Is A Bullet . The genesis of much of the material for Some Tunes For Charlie Spencer lay in the Middle East, specifically Iraq and Jordan, where Gow was sent on assignments as a journalist through 2006. While there is not a trace of politics in this work, the back-drop of the Baghdad skyline can be found as early as the opening lines... Kind of coming undone, looking out over a city bleached by the sun." This image is inextricably linked to the hotel room balcony where that and most of the other songs assembled here were written. Elsewhere, the lonely isolation that permeates travel to strange and foreign climes is woven into the fabric of tracks like Sweethearts of the Radio . Pre-production on the album was also pretty unconventional by any bands standard; demo d in a hotel room in Iraq, in the wee small hours, whispered into a mini-disc player using microphones gaffer-taped to an electric fan, while all around slept. The files were then emailed to Del Skinner to begin work on the arrangements. The hushed intimacy of many of the original demo s made it through the recording process and can be heard on 'Sweethearts of the Radio and closer Dead Lines As true to the original idea as those tracks were, the rest of Some Tunes For Charlie Spencer was documented essentially live; Gary Brady making sure, at all times, the microphones were in place and the record-button was depressed. The version of bar-room romp Cold N Old used in the final sequence was not only the first take, it was the first time the band played the song together... not just music being recorded... this was music being created. So what of Charlie Spencer? The almost title track is a cinematic look into the lives of the fictitious(ish) Charlie and Analthea. The hope that builds as their day unwittingly draw the estranged couple back towards each other is cruelly shattered when Analthea can t bring herself to turn and look into the window of a café in which Charlie is sitting. It is a dark study that, as with much of Gow s writing shows there is rarely a happy ending in real life. This performance, a real stand-out on the record, is brought to life by Sophia Marshall s (The Havenots) haunting, beautiful vocal. Some Tunes For Charlie Spencer is a magnificent collection of songs that serve notice on the song writing talents of Pete Gow and showcases material that is sure to be as powerful live as it is on record.