Singer-songwriter John Gardner formed Brooklyn based folk-rock band Common Jack during a two and a half year world tour with the Broadway show, Once. Based on the indie film of the same name starring Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova, Gardner spent those years playing Once to sold-out houses in America, Canada, and Japan while gigging with his own material in his free time.
Gardner recorded Common Jack's debut LP - Bowl, Holland - in Washington DC's historic Cue Recording Studios with platinum producer Jim Ebert. Bowl, Holland was praised for the "richness of the sound...from minimalist to quite symphonic” and for Gardner's songwriting, "his voice takes us in quite a poetic world, in a very original musical dimension, he makes us fly." (Michel Penard, ISA Radio)
Upon finishing the album, Gardner immediately began working on what would become Common Jack's second LP. Working at Degraw Sound in Brooklyn with co-producer & engineer Harper James, Gardner recorded his next album Strange New State - a 12 track exploration of his re-entry into “normal” life after 766 days on tour - over the course of 2 weeks.
It was released to critical acclaim & realized the potential so many heard on Bowl Holland. Longtime Common Jack friend and radio DJ in France Michel Penard of ISA radio immediately wrote “this album will remain the first gem on the discography...(Gardner) reached something with these recordings.” These sentiments were echoed by The Alternate Root magazine, “Common Jack snags the indie style of musical inclusivity...self assured and confident...hits a universal note.”