It’s time again for The Schleicher Spin to put a Spotlight on the Independent Arts.
The goal of this recurring feature is to give exposure to, encourage collaboration with, and provide honest critiques for independent artists. The plan is to feature filmmakers, writers, photographers, painters and musicians. As an independent author, I feel it’s important to support and celebrate those working independently to forge their careers in the arts.
If you are an independent artist interested in having your film, book, music or art considered by The Schleicher Spin for a Spotlight feature, please submit a comment.
Our current entry will focus on the new full length album from New York’s own Robbie Gil, Save Yourself.
The Lowdown: Robbie Gil should be no stranger to Spin readers or to fans of the New York City music scene. He’s been featured before on Spotlight on the Independent Arts and is regular headliner at Manhattan’s legendary Rockwood Music Hall. Recently he released a new album, Save Yourself, which can be purchased at one of his shows or through cdbaby.com. Older songs from his album Stumble Inn and his EP Lightning in a Bottle are also available on iTunes.
Maybe it’s my bias as a writer, but my favorite musicians are those who are first and foremost masterful storytellers – the Bruce Springsteens, the Fiona Apples – they know not only how to craft a tune, but also how to tell a compelling story in as few choice words as possible. Robbie Gil, with his “Cat Stevens-by-way-of-Ray LaMontagne” vibe is no different. In most of his songs he’s waxing poetically about struggling with his personal demons or the haunting natures of past relationships. This is the normal fodder for great lyricists. But when Gil sings, “I only think about you now when the wind blows” or pleads with his listener (or muse) about not being good enough so you better just save yourself, he comes across as that cool artistic guy everyone knows. Hell, maybe he’s you. Or your ex. His songs have a sensitive yet gritty “everyman” quality to them that allows anyone with a beating heart to relate to and commiserate with him.
While the catchy little ditty, “The Flame’s out in the Lighthouse”, takes the cake for upbeat bar music, the crowning achievement of Save Yourself is the wrenching ballad that closes the album, “Valentine”. It’s a spiritual cousin to my other favorite song of his, “How’s Colorado?” With lyrics like…
“…but I’ll carry you with me wherever I go. And I’ll keep holding on. I don’t know how to let go. And you gave up on me, but I won’t give up on you. I’m still not ready to start serenading somebody new. Guess I’ll keep waiting for you to come through…”
Gil solidifies his status as one of the premier members of the lonely hearts club. The intonations and cadence of his voice is what raises the material above clichés, and at the end of the song his listeners can rest in melancholy assurance that Robbie is probably serenading someone new, though you wonder if she’ll ever come through either.
The Final Spin: Robbie Gil’s folksy, bluesy, heartache-fueled rock is paradoxically both the type of music you want to play in the background of a chill, relaxed gathering of friends and also the type of music you want to listen closely to the lyrics to dive deep into the great stories Gil weaves. Either way, you’ll find it damned difficult to separate his latest from your regular CD player or iPod rotation.
Written by David H. Schleicher