H.R. Gertner has not let the pandemic get in the way of creating. Releasing not one, but two albums during the worldwide shutdown, Gertner used stripped down recording techniques — acoustic guitar, vocals and other sparse accompaniment such as cello and dobro — to deliver his songs of sincerity.
The first, Waiting for the End to Begin (Rattletrap Records) was released April 10, was recorded at three locations in the Sunshine State: TheLakeHouse (Starke), and Sunshine Studios and BlueCouch Studios (Gainesville). The cover photo/design is by H.R.Gertner, with model Loretta Jane.
Such a Tragedy (Rattletrap Records) was released August 7 and was recorded at both BlueCouch Studios (Gainesville, FL) and Riverbottom Studios (Gainesville, GA); mixed by H.R.Gertner and David Kennedy; and mastered by David Kennedy at Asylum Sound Laboratory (Gainesville, GA). The cover photo/design is by H.R.Gertner.
Raw, reflective and resonant, the first album Waiting for the End to Begin, released in April but written pre-pandemic, deals with coping with his brother’s recent leukemia diagnosis. With his light acoustic strumming and deep baritone voice, one can picture Gertner sitting on his living room couch, looking out at the rain sliding down the window, delivering his moving heartfelt lyrics to an intimate and attentive audience, or maybe just to you. You’ll be drawn in like he’s an old friend. “New Wine into Old Bottles” is a unique song on a very relatable practice of trying to fit something familiar into something uncertain: “here I am alone, thinking of you again.”
On his second album, Such A Tragedy, the opening track “Broken Things” brings to mind a young Blaze Foley. “She likes broken things, her piano has no middle C,” Gertner sings of a short-lived quarantine romance. “Shady Pretenses” is an homage to a guarded soul in low gritty vocal tones. “Rather Be Happy Than Rich” is a wry commentary on the hard choices in life. “It’s your birthday, come on let’s have a party, you can cry if you want to.”
The entire album carries Gertner’s striking baritone vocals through crystal clear guitar. Dancing like a flame in the dark, on Such A Tragedy, H.R. Gertner plays with the balance of light and dark subject matter while continuing to process through life’s very real pains.
Nellie Sunshine provides beautiful cello accompaniment on Waiting for the End to Begin while David Kennedy provides dobro on Such A Tragedy. Both albums were recorded in Gainsville, FL. You can visit https://hrgertner.bandcamp.com/ to listen to both EPs and purchase them too.