Brooklyn-based songwriter and multi-instrumentalist John Gardner formed indie-folk outfit Common Jack several years ago, and released his acclaimed debut album, Bowl, Holland, in late 2015. With a range of musical influences including George Harrison, Bob Dylan and Kevin Morby, Common Jack has been creating fresh arrangements that blend elements of Americana, rock and pop, with solid folk song structures, collaborating with a group of supporting musicians on electric guitars, drums, fiddles, and synths/organs.
One of the staples of Common Jack's compositions are the reflective and powerful lyrics that provide the narrative to the listener. Case in point is the brand new single and accompanying music video for "Old Faded Flag." Produced, engineered and mixed by Harper James (Eighty Ninety) and recorded at Brooklyn's Degraw Sound, "Old Faded Flag" is one of the most powerful, encouraging and unifying songs I've heard in our often challenging times.
On Common Jack's Facebook page, John writes, "'Old Faded Flag' represents what we all live through: trying to find love, waking up feeling like shit, dealing with people who don’t like us for whatever reason, etc. My hope is that this song builds bridges, not that it tears them down."
On a recent chat with SoundThread, John reinforces the call for empathy: "It is becoming easier to isolate ourselves and create narratives that others are out to get us. The song, through observation of our surroundings, tries to explore our shared humanity as well as the ways that nostalgia and power can be weapons used against the most vulnerable among us."
From a purely musical perspective, John tells SoundThread, "In writing the song, I wanted to use a pretty traditional American Folk structure because to me, that format has always felt best suited for telling stories that cover a lot of ground. We juxtaposed the structure with a pretty modern style of studio production; we used more synths and overdubs than normal because we really wanted this song to feel like a product of the 21st century and its specific challenges."
The song's accompanying, cinematic music video - filmed on location in Astoria and Long Island City, NY, and produced by John and Adventure We Can - follows three characters, strangers to each other, as they each make their way to a concert one night. "At each new verse, the narrative passes from one character to the next through chance encounters (e.g., ending up on the same bus, holding the door open for one another)," John explains. "Throughout the lyrics, we hear references to acts of homophobia and sexual assault, but in this video we see how those extremes manifest themselves in everyday and mundane ways that wear us down."
As the video progresses, John notes, "We arrive at the concert that night and for a brief moment these strangers, still unknown to each other, become part of the same community and experience a short relief from their hardships. In this way, we bear witness to their shared humanity and the ways that strangers can affect each others' lives."
COMMON JACK "OLD FADED FLAG" (Official Music Video)
"Old Faded Flag" precedes Common Jack's new EP, Canyons in the Dark, which is expected to be released in early 2019. In the meantime, be sure to add "Old Faded Flag" to your playlists and check out Common Jack's upcoming live performances if you can.
11/15 - Rockwood Music Hall Stage 1
12/09 - The Scratcher Sessions
For more information about Common Jack, visit the band's official website, follow on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube), and find Common Jack's music on Bandcamp, Spotify and iTunes.