Albert and Gage - Cry Love

 

Dan Forte

 

Taylor Guitars - Wood and Steel

 

May 2007

     Christine Albert and her husband and musical partner, Chris Gage, are a perfect example of why Austin, Texas, has such a thriving music community, not just a “scene.” In addition to various musical collaborations, they’ve lent their talents to countless benefits (for organizations like Meals On Wheels, United Way, and the Austin Children’s Museum, and often to help fellow musicians out of a bind), and Christine’s speaking engagements have included everything from the Family Violence Task Force to the Rotary Club.

     So when Chris was sidelined with a severe back injury in early 2005, it was a no-brainer: that same Austin community pulled together as one, to help a couple that now found itself on the opposite end of a benefit, to defray expenses for the operation Chris needed.

     Fortunately, the benefit and the operation were both successes, and Gage seems back in full force — as evidenced on the couple’s fifth album as a duo.

     Gage’s own resume includes numerous entries as sideman, session multi-instrumentalist, engineer and producer, and he serves as the latter two here, in addition to playing acoustic, electric, baritone and slide guitars, Dobro, mandolin, percussion, and keyboards (including accordion). His lead vocal and acoustic are the first things you hear on the hooky opener, “Comin’ Home”, an Albert and Gage co-write.

     Christine’s soaring vocal takes the lead on the second track, “Far As You Can See,” another Albert-Gage original — one of nine that sits comfortably alongside covers of John Hiatt and Mickey Newbury. Stylistically, the mix is as much folk as it is country as it is rock (I’m trying to avoid the catch-all “Americana,” but it’s fitting here).

     Throughout, the sound is crisp and clean, with the various instruments in Chris’s arsenal darting up and down in the mix so deftly you don’t notice just how much is going on. Coincidentally but appropriately, the rhythm section — yet another Austin example of taste and versatility — consists of bassist Brad Fordham and drummer Lisa Pankratz, who are also husband and wife.

     If you’ve never been to Austin, or are a homesick transplant, or it’s been a while and you need an audio fix, load up on Willie Nelson, Joe Ely, Asleep at the Wheel, James McMurtry, and Jimmie Dale Gilmore. But don’t forget Albert and Gage — they’re every bit as integral a part of the Austin music community.

— Dan Forte

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