Right now we're gonna figure out exactly when Gambles was born. It wasn't way back when he was a kid in the front seat of his dad's car, driving around the back roads of upstate New York and listening to everything from Joni Mitchell to Motley Crue, and learning through long conversations what a song was and where it came from and how it felt to hear a good one. And it wasn't when his dad gave him his first guitar, or when he taught himself probably almost a hundred Leonard Cohen songs. And it wasn't when he and a girl were on the corner of Grand and Mercer in New York City as the sun was sliding down between the buildings and she told him something that would change their lives and months later they would be married-and then it wasn't later that year when he wasn't married to anyone.
But by then Gambles was close. Except it wouldn't be easy. It would take one more year of smoke, a year of telling everyone he'd made a record when he knew he wasn't in any shape to make anything. And then he found himself a shack on a beach in Costa Rica with a girl he'd just met and a tropical storm hammering the windows and a guitar he probably couldn't remember picking up, and he was lost in the song and the moment and suddenly she stopped him-and asked him to play that again. That-he says now-was the moment when Gambles was born.
"All my favorite music sends me somewhere new," he says. "I wanted ?to make music like that. I didn't know how but I knew I could know how. It was like a pat on the shoulder when I was doing so miserably all those years, when I'd fail. it'd be like, 'Not right now. But you will.'"
He came home from the tropics to New York City in the autumn of 2012. While drinking with his best friend-who happened to make records in a home studio called the Rare Book Room-he invited him downstairs where he sat on the couch too drunk to think too much and took one single take to pour a song never written down on paper into a microphone.
That was 'Trust', the first song he would post on his tumblr and the same song that Pitchfork somehow found only a few weeks later and presented to the world.
Across the winter of 2012 and the spring of 2013, he sang through songs born only in the most unpredictable unguarded moments-lonesome late nights or long nowhere drives while touring with The Maccabees, or between sound checks when his erstwhile soundman had to scramble to record them before the inspiration disappeared. In a song like 'Animal', he makes new promises to new discoveries: "Follow me / between these words where we can be." And in the songs that would become his first full-length Trust-songs like 'California' and 'So I Cry Out', sculpted? through sudden recording sessions and break-of-dawn moments that? happened the day before the album was supposed to be done-he'd take all the stories that made him into Gambles and bring them to wild honest life with nothing but his guitar, his voice and every memory he needed to keep.
There is a darkness in these songs, just like the time that ?birthed them: "There's no safe side," he sings."Wherever I stand, I damage." But in the same way, there's light and a new beginning waiting. That long night in Costa Rica was when Gambles was born. And now with the ?release of his LP on his own GMBLS imprint through Secretly Canadian, it's become the day when Gambles wakes up.
GAMBLES LIVE IN THE UK
1st October - London, Bush Hall (supporting Marques Toliver)
2nd October - Brighton, The Haunt (supporting Marques Toliver)
3rd October - Manchester, Deaf Institute (supporting Marques Toliver)
GAMBLES TRUST TRACKLISTING
So I Cry Out
Penny For A Grave
You Are Truth
'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.
The two awards have made for a great 72nd birthday present for the country music icon.