Singer-songwriter, John Gorka is a unique talent. He has a fabulous singing voice and, he writes great songs too. While not all the songs on the album are his own, the ones he has brought in are likewise top order fare. As in his fine interpretations of the poems of Robert Burns and William Stafford, respectively ‘Ae Fond Kiss’ and ‘Where No Monument Stands’, plus you have versions of Bruce ‘Utah’ Phillips’ ‘I Think Of You’ (c/w the briefest of introduction from the late bard), Michael Smith’s popular story-ballad ‘The Dutchman’ that fits his style, perfectly, and a version of the blues perennial ‘Trouble In Mind’ augment his own work. ‘Trouble In Mind’ has the short, but wonderful blues leaning instrumental ‘Fret One’ for company as Gorka with acoustic and Dick Freymuth on electric guitar pick some good stuff. Staying in this vein Gorka plays some choice fret-less banjo on ‘Fret Not’ that though made in his home it has rustic field like recording sound that near surpasses all others. So great is the sound!
Heard at his melodic best on ‘Whole Wide World’ he hooks onto a splendid little melody plus, he has the lovely soothing tones of Eliza Gilkyson lend support. When you place a John Gorka record on your player you not only get music that is good but, it welcomes you right on into his own emotional state of mind as he takes an intimate take on life. One of the prettiest songs is ‘Mr. Chambers’, while on bringing in the accordion of Dan Chouinard ‘That Was The Year’ is both funny and soothing. Also of a soothing nature we have the closing track ‘Diminishing Winds’ that has ‘the fabulous’ Lucy Kaplansky on harmony vocals, and mandolin player Peter Ostroushko lend crucial support to the wistful and imaginative ode.
Others of note include ‘Can’t get Over It’. Another that has the benefit of accordion, and on possessing a keen urgency ‘Ignorance And Privilege’ pounds on in relentless fashion —just how I love Gorka (John at his creative best, man his music speaks to me). While the presentation of Utah’s ‘I Think Of You’ with a hint of an old Celtic melody and Kaplansky in superb voice alongside a supporting cast of Jeff Victor (keyboards), Joel Sayles (upright bass) and Marc Anderson (percussion) it gains wings. As for his song, ‘Live By The Sword’ it is a snappy, lyrically sharp affair. If you are unfamiliar with Gorka then here is the opportunity to correct the defect in your persona plus, as a new year’s resolution why not have ‘become more acquainted with music coming from Red House records’ as your musical aim.
Folk legend John Gorka sat the KXT studios Thursday, December 3 for a live performance with afternoon host Joe Kozera.
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