Folk-Rock singer John Gardner formed Common Jack during a two-year world tour with the actor-musician Broadway show, Once. Based on the indie film of the same name starring Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglová, Gardner played Once to sold-out houses across America, Canada, and Japan while gigging with his own music in his free time. He had always wanted to pursue music but the realities of life made the dream seem worlds away. But when he found himself in conversation with Glen Hansard in Los Angeles, his hang-ups began to dissolve. Responding to Gardner’s doubts, Hansard spoke with lilting wisdom, “It’s frightening to lift our voice, but it’s always worth the effort.” The words left their mark and Gardner soon left Once to begin recording.
2019 saw the independent release of Common Jack’s EP, Canyons in the Dark, which – led by the single Viñales – gained traction on Spotify with more than 1.5 million streams and earned Gardner a distribution deal with Black 17 Media, a joint venture between Sony Music and The Orchard. Now comes CJ’s new single, Still Awake, a meditative folk-pop track with a driving backbeat that weaves evocative storytelling with a lush, hook-laced arrangement.
“I was at a moment of huge change in my life and it felt like the ground was shifting beneath my feet,” Gardner says of the song’s origin. “What began as a collection of late-night thoughts documenting my trouble sleeping became a love letter to close relationships and how they can get us through moments of doubt and fear.”
Gardner says that he and co-producer Harper James (of EIGHTY NINETY) wanted the song to have a huge build. “We wanted a realistic, minimal soundscape, in the beginning, to slowly give way to a lush, surrealistic dream world. Almost like the narrator is willing himself to dream in real-time.”