Photo by Eric Wood
The son of musical “hippie” parents, it seems preordained that Gabriel Harley would grow up to be a professional singer/songwriter himself. While most kids his age were listening to “Old MacDonald,” he was already absorbing deep cuts from The Beatles, Jim Croce, Cat Stevens, and countless others off his parents’ overburdened record shelf.
That early curiosity has served him well. In the intervening decades, Gabriel has written and released four solo albums, played countless shows across the United States, received an Emmy nomination, produced and engineered albums and concerts for top-selling and Grammy-winning artists in a variety of genres, and collaborated with poets, novelists, and Nashville hit songwriters.
In 2023, Gabriel will release his latest album, Beat of a Broken Heart, a collection of songs partially inspired by his experiences recovering from open-heart surgery. It was a journey that brought him to death’s door more than once, yet he credits the ordeal with giving him a newfound sense of personal freedom and fearlessness.
The first single from the new record, released earlier this summer, is its title track. Recorded with his band in a backwoods Tennessee cabin, “Beat of a Broken Heart” is an uptempo, major-key, yet ultimately bittersweet song of love and loss. Other highlights and forthcoming singles include: “Night of Good Mirth,” an Irish-inspired waltz celebrating life, friendship, and booze; “Good Day to Fly,” a laid-back blues rocker that wouldn’t sound out of place on an Allman Brothers album; and finally “La La La,” an instantly catchy story-song involving the singer, a wise old sage, and the Devil himself… the chorus of which was written—no joke—by Gabriel’s pet parrot Oscar.
Beat of a Broken Heart is being released on Perfect Mix Records and features both new and familiar musical collaborators, including Gabriel’s longtime guitarist, David Alexander, bassist Kendall Thomson, vocalist Ashley Hart, vocalist and fiddle-player Holly Garrett, and drummer Eric Wood.