‘Restless’ is the kind of song to listen to when anxious feelings creep up on us. A song that reassures us that everything will be ok. Catchy and one of those songs that is easy to belt out in the car when no one is listening. Another addition to my Car playlist.
Photo: Ashley Yu
John Gardner, aka Common Jack, grew up in rural Virginia outside the city limits. Born to an opera singer and a folk music lover, his parents’ eclectic music tastes shaped his sound and imagination in innumerable ways. His innate musical foundation, combined with his training as an actor at Ithaca College, prepared him for the role of a lifetime when the actor-musician Broadway show Once came calling.Gardner began performing under the Common Jack moniker during the two and a half years he spent touring Once for sold out theaters in America, Canada, and Japan, working directly with Glen Hansard and the rest of the Oscar, Grammy and Tony winning creative team behind the motion picture. John played a principle character and handled 7 instruments throughout the show while also acting as the ‘on-site music director’ – the youngest to wear that title in the show’s history.
Somewhere between the years on tour and 837 performances, John found time to write his own material. “I always wanted to start my own band but never made it past recording in my bedroom until the Once tour” John concedes. Being surrounded by such a talented and inspiring group of musicians encouraged him to bring his solo material to the public. He formed Common Jack and began performing his songs with members of Once in the cities they visited.The cast members were also used in the recording sessions for his first album, Bowl, Holland, which was released in 2015. The debut drew comparisons to Shakey Graves, The Head & The Heart, and Wilco and forged the way for John’s second LP, Strange New State, which was recorded with Harper James, one of the founders of breakout indie pop band EIGHTY-NINETY, at Brooklyn’s Degraw Sound. Released in 2016, Strange New State gained heavy airplay on radio stations across the US and Europe and solidified John’s relationship with James, who handled production duties on his newest single “Restless”.Straightforward yet gorgeously adorned, “Restless” strikes a concise balance between the anthemic nature of the Once material and the more road trip friendly folk rock on Gardner’s debut. “I feel this single is really emblematic of what Common Jack is about” John asserts. “Using everyday language to reach a deeper meaning, connecting us together in unexpected ways.”