A bit about this songwriter...
Whether Gabriel would consider himself akin to these same characters is up for debate, but his personal as well as musical growth have been on consistent upswings through the past ten years, thus allowing newfound perspective to gel with his penchant for the existential. He'd most likely tell you himself that an early album like In Aurora saw then 20-year-old Gabriel focusing more on standing out as a guitarist rather than a quote-unquote songwriter. But throughout Gabriel's career, he has gained influence and mentorship from bonafide music icons as well as close friends and collaborators. On a national level, Gabriel has found kinship with the likes of Tim Polite of The Byrds, Howard Levy (founding member of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones), jazz drummer Ernie Adams and Miles Davis engineer Rob Ruccia. Locally, he counts close friends like former guitarist and co-producer Gary Belniak, engineer Mike Bowen, songwriting troubadour Greg Boerner and Noah's Arcade rhythm section Chad Watson and Justin O'Connell as those that have influenced his songwriting, energized his growth or even pushed him simply to play out more often. Thanks to this canyon-wide support system, Gabriel slowly became more assured as a lyricist, and more open to allowing his breathtaking guitar solos to speak on behalf of a song's subject instead of primarily connecting bridges and choruses.
It took a move from his native Chicago suburbs to a true songwriter's town - Austin, TX - for Gabriel to truly be discovered, if only by himself. 2012's Austin Bound is a deeply personal record that accompanied his change of scenery, further cementing Gabriel's talent for penning intimate tales about the human experience. Despite being a veteran of the Chicago area, one couldn't help feeling swallowed by the everyone-for-themselves scene that Austin had become. "The ten years of playing up here meant nothing to them down there," Gabriel told local blog Screw'dtopia in 2014. "I was just a guy."
But without that shift of location, without being away from home base for a bit, some of Gabriel's best work to date might not have happened at all. It was upon returning to Illinois that Gabriel eventually reconnected with Watson and O'Connell - whom he had played with at a birthday party for local record store owner Steve Warrenfeltz before the Austin move - on what would become this new path. On the self-titled Noah's Arcade debut, cuts like "Beggars Never Borrow" and "On The Run" speak directly to these new life experiences as do the discordant feel of "Looking Back" or "Vultures" from the aforementioned Easy.
In 2017, Gabriel made his most introspective and best album yet, Dead Reckoning -- a concept album about terminal illness, facing death and the grieving process. "The past couple of years, I have seen more and more people both in my personal life and out in the world dealing with sickness and the death of loved ones," comments Gabriel. "I know it’s not something that is happening more often, it’s just something I’m becoming more aware as I grow older and try to find my own place in life."
A virtuoso guitarist, Gabriel is more reigned in than ever here, allowing the lyrics and mood to speak louder than any solo. Dead Reckoning sports the dark emotional resonance of recent albums by Jason Isbell, Ryan Adams and Chris Stapleton, hitting on an air of loneliness that Gabriel's brand of Americana makes all the more intriguing. At times, on slow-burners like "Temporary State" and "Midnight Blue," one can almost feel in the studio with Gabriel as strings squeak, pianos ache and slide guitars sway into the ether.
Alongside Gabriel, this album has been brought to life by drummer Justin O'Connell and producer/bassist Adam Gardner, the latter of which spent many years doing touring and session work in Nashville with Grammy-winning producer Dave Cobb (Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell, Chris Stapleton). When Gardner expressed interest in coming back to Illinois and strike out on his own as a producer, Gabriel pitched him the ideas behind Dead Reckoning, and the fire was started to get it done. Beyond this album, Gardner and O'Connell -- introduced to each other by Gabriel during the process -- will be collaborating on quite a bit in the coming year.
Now settled back to the town that made him who he is, Gabriel has a lot to say ten years on and music fans worldwide - having seen him open for the likes of Robert Randolph and the Family Band or the Old 97's - are better for it.