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Album Review by Claire Winzenburg: 

Goodbye Home, the debut album of The Real John Gary (singer-songwriter Andrew Clinard), is a 13 track exploration into themes of, well, home. Building a home, finding a love, building a home with that newfound love. Built upon a steady beat and layered with simple harmonies, For The First Time seems a sweet celebration of finally obtaining what many of us dream of: a shared house key, the unassisted unhooking of a bra strap, feeling like you might just “have it all.” In contrast, Clinard’s rougher vocals and twangy string-pluckin’ in Goodbye Home plays like a country funeral song in mourning of stability. His lyrics “can’t get work, and that’s the start of my trouble,” are timelessly relatable but hit particularly hard in the context of a global pandemic. Almost anyone anywhere could blast this track in their kitchen and suddenly become a drummer, grabbing a wooden spoon and beating the shit out of some pots and pans for all that’s been lost in their world. 

Reminiscent of the late great John Prine, Clinard’s lyrics are poetic in their blunt simplicity and sprinkled with progressive politicism ranging from subtly quiet to obviously loud. His dark sense of humor shines brightly in the catchy, upbeat tempos of Live Forever and Imagination, while he shows us a more serious side in Seeds, harmonizing with his partner in a sweet love song to his unborn child. 

While listening to his vocals, I sometimes hear glimpses of the grief and grit of Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel, but Clinard’s voice is distinctly his, as is his clean-while-still-somehow-messy-sometimes-even-violent-sounding guitar playing. His concoction of folk instruments combine to stimulate my ears with their complexity, often leaving me asking “What kind of noise is that? And why do I like it so much?” between his harmonica solos and banjo riffs. 

All in all, The Real John Gary offers us an impressive debut album in the world of folk rock and alt-country. A musical reflection of his life on a farm, searching for love, and finding a home, Goodbye Home is intriguing, relatable, and impressive in both its lyrical honesty and musical technicality.