Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 8.5/10
Whether we like it or not, we are all on a mission, we almost don’t recognise the fact the charge of the vocation placed before us, we don’t realise the simplicity of the exercise in hand, to survive, to spread a sprinkle of joy where we can. To drive the vehicle of our choice, from high speed adrenaline fuelled rocket under the bonnet, ten wheeled drive juggernaut to the sedate feel of our feet touching the very Earth in which we have made our home, taking every moment in, only pausing to salute the bravery and the sheer cool of those who find the iconic Volkswagen Transporter an alluring sight on The Mission Express as offer the listener a moment to be Bathed in Comfort.
It is to be transported by Steve Gardner to his own personal statement of intent that makes the evening glow with trepidation and the purpose of any journey to be memorable. Nobody wants a run in life which is always maintained by the mundane, first gear and down at heart which accompanies the ring road system to the local shop and back every day; nobody requires to be sat in the inside lane of a motorway with nothing to look at but miles and miles of concrete hedgerow and the crawl of a possible slow flat tyre winding their way.
It is to Steve Gardner that the foot goes down, the music roars and the route of all routes is undertaken, and not for the first time the mission is fulfilled and impressive, the gas not spared, the promise a journey laden with pit stops of bounty, of the odd deep filled jacuzzi, of the cleanliness as sins are thrown in the trash and the music becoming a kind of baptism; to be bathed in the flowing waters of all out rock and country.
Steve Gardner gives the listener, his passenger riding shot gun, an outing in which the songs are generous, unstinting in their lyrics and the music provided the The Mission Express band, made up of Vincente Rodriguez, Kevin White, James Deprato, Chuck Prophet, Stephanie Finch and Ralph Carney, is upbeat and playful, whilst all the time hitting home the point that the journey is only the beginning, before you pull up outside your destination you must have had the epiphany that some albums, some musicians offer more than a journey, they take you on a voyage of discovery; they introduce you to a different set of rules and scenes in which you can only be truly thankful for.
In songs such as Rosalie, the sublime The Day The Aliens Saved The World, Picture Of You, I Forgot and Miller’s Daughter, Steve Gardner picks up speed, comes off the highway and traverses the landscape, criss-crossing every vantage sight and must see monument and lets the listener drive for a while; for the point of The Mission Express is that it is not a soulless drive, it is a get together and taking turns at the wheel, onward to the next town where the comfort of rock bathing is important.
Ian D. Hall