Hourglass is the fifth and strongest album by Toronto singer/songwriter Howard Gladstone. The album consists of nine original songs performed by Howard Gladstone accompanied by an ensemble of highly talented and creative musicians, and recorded in April and May 2017.
The album title, Hourglass, with its themes of despair, hope, healing, resolve, the inevitability of fate, and the road, viewed through the lens of passing time, is taken from the lyrics of the opening track:
“You may be shattered like the hourglass,
Grains of sand on dying grass,
Winds rage and howl at your battered soul,
Deep inside something keeps you whole”
Howard Gladstone experienced a sudden onset spinal stenosis in 2014 that resulted in debilitating spinal surgery. Initially he was totally paralyzed and completely immobile. It was a slow gradual recovery. After three years, Howard is able to return to music, his passion, with a higher level of commitment and inspiration. During this period Howard understood at a deeper level the healing power of art and music. The songs Howard wrote for this album reflect a quiet despair, but matched by an optimism fuelled by hope. Howard wishes to direct these songs to those in need of a message of hope.
The musicians on Hourglass are Howard Gladstone (songwriter, vocal, acoustic guitar); Laura Fernandez, (vocal); Tony Quarrington, (guitar); George Koller, (upright bass); Great Bob Scott, (drums, tracks 6-9).
Howard wrote and revised the songs before, during, and after his injury and rehabilitation. Two of the songs, “Granada Nights” and “Rider’s Song (Cordoba)”, adapted from Lorca, are graced with verses translated and sung in Spanish by Laura Fernandez. Laura has added some extraordinary vocal parts to several of the tunes, and her creativity imbues the record with a special quality. “The Road Is Me” is a co-write with guitarist Tony Quarrington, who also produced the record.
Hourglass was produced by Tony Quarrington, and engineered and mastered by Peter J. Moore at MDI Productions and The eRoom Studio in Toronto (Holly Cole, Cowboy Junkies, Grammy for mastering “The Basement Tapes”). The album was recorded with the Calrec microphone used in the Cowboy Junkies’ famous “Trinity Sessions.” This single microphone captures a blended field of sound that gives the recording a very organic feel. The overall effect is close to that of a live ensemble recording; as no individual part once recorded, can be changed. Howard was recorded on a separate single mike to capture both vocal and guitar, thus enabling the degree of separation necessary to ensure the vocals are clear in the mix. A few instrumental overdubs were made to some tracks to provide added texture.
There are some musical surprises, including the vocal chorus that joins Howard to help on the album’s closer, “Still Got So Long to Go.” The emphasis was on spontaneity and capturing the “in the moment” feeling to make a compelling and engaging recording. As a songwriter, Howard has always focused intently in crafting powerful lyrics and aiming to find the perfect marriage with melody, arrangement and musical accompaniment.
The recording was made at the highest possible audio resolution, 192K/24bit in digital multi-track format. The high-resolution files are available for those whose playback system can support it. The brain can process the extra sonic information provided in high-resolution audio that the human ear does not hear.
Hourglass will be released on CD, vinyl and digitally – as well as in high-resolution audio.
Hourglass is the first release on a new record label being founded by Howard Gladstone and Laura Fernandez, Sonic Peach Music, with an emphasis on original music recorded in high resolution audio.
ABOUT “HOURGLASS” by Howard Gladstone
Excerpt from reviews:
SINGER WROTE NEW ALBUM FOLLOWING SPINAL SURGERY
“Gladstone is modest about his guitar playing – he’s no Bruce Cockburn or Eric Clapton, he says – but the guitar is an essential part of his sound, along with his relaxed vocal style. “The guitar is part of the way for me to express the emotion and feel of the music, to find the right balance of lyric and melody,” he said. … But he does more than just get by on Hourglass, a collection of nine exquisite songs about human fragility and strength, as time ticks away.” …. “The album, which was produced by Gladstone’s guitarist, Tony Quarrington, will be released by Gladstone and Laura Fernandez’s new label, Sonic Peach. Fernandez, a sweetly powerful vocalist, sings several duets with Gladstone on the album. “
Ruth Schweitzer, Canadian Jewish News, September 28, 2017
Hourglass: Howard’s Glass Menagerie
“There is a new release, Hourglass, from Sonic Peach Music that marks the fifth collection of songs from Torontonian Howard Gladstone. An emblematic album, embracing the tradition of the troubadour and the philosophy of the searcher, Hourglass flows with flourishes of insight and romantic imagery.” …. “ The rolling ease of the instrumentalists keeps an even path for Gladstone`s allusive episodes of travel and epiphany. Crystalline shine from the melodic expertise of Mr. Quarrington and bassist George Koller “ …. “The effervescent energy of the whole ensemble brings to life Mr. Gladstone`s affectionate memories and his calm reminders of the sands swirling through every moment and floating down to rest. “
Paul Corby, Corby’s Orbit, September 2017
Read the complete reviews