The reviews are coming in...and they're fantastic!!!
I would investigate Hirsh Gardner's latest solo effort, My Brain Needs A Holiday for the title alone. It does raise some curiosity. Gardner ascribes the title to the need to do another solo album after writing and producing songs for other artists for so many years. Another reason to listen to the album is his cover of Whiter Shade Of Pale, one of my favorite Procol Harum songs. It's not quite as good as Willie Nelson's cover, but Gardner does a fine job all the same.
But I'm getting a bit ahead of myself. You're probably asking, who in the world is Hirsh Gardner? That was my first question, too. This is going to date many of us, but Hirsh Gardner was the drummer and one of three vocalists for the AOR rock band New England. They had some success between 1979 and 1982 with three albums and several successful singles. I actually had their first album. But truthfully my recollection of it isn't all that memorable. Over the following 35 years Gardner has done an abundance of songwriting and producing to stay active in the music business. In 2002, he released his first solo album Wasteland for Broken Hearts which, if you buy the first pressing of this album, comes as a bonus disc. There you go: another reason to bet this album.
As for My Brain Needs A Holiday and the tunes within, Gardner strays little from his early roots by delivering classy and catchy AOR melodic rock. He's helped along the way by some very special guest musicians including guitarists Jimmy Waldo (New England), Richie Ranno (Starz), Ron Bumblefoot Thal (Guns N Roses, Art of Anarchy). That's to say that one of the terrific elements of this album are the fiery guitar solos, as within Sister Jane, Shadows, or the title cut. Another significant element is the superior harmonious vocal arrangements in every song, but most notable within Do Me Do Me, Diamond Moon, and the epic choral feeling of Love Is. Returning to Whiter Shade Of Pale, the vocals are also stunning, Gardner nails the symphonic texture, and there's another fandamntastic guitar solo. All this to say, as a solo album, My Brain Needs A Holiday is a fine return to form for Hirsh Gardner. He's a creative master of AOR melodic rock. Hopefully, another 15 years won't pass before we hear another album. Easily recommended.