Review | July 22nd, 2016
Reviewed by Michael Rampa
© Country Standard Time •
Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher
Gorka- Before Beginning
The Unreleased I Know - Nashville - 1985
2016, Red House Records
Gorka travelled the indie route when it was a clearer path to
success in a musical landscape untainted by piracy, digital downloads
ad paltry songwriting royalties. He came up playing coffeehouses
in eastern Pennsylvania where he rose from a basement resident
and house MC to performer. Rolling Stone dubbed him "the preeminent
male singer-songwriter of the New Folk Movement." Having worked
with Shawn Colvin and Lucy Kaplansky, he already had industry
cred by the time Red House Records recognized his potential and
released his first album, 1987's critically acclaimed "I Know"
Gorka is known for his slice of life observations, and this collection
of his first and previously unreleased recordings is less a narrative
arc than samples of his various stylings. Nine of the 12 songs
made it onto "I Know."
opener, "Down In The Milltown" is a workingman's anthem where
the laborer prefers silence and the sound of the engine to human
interaction coming off of his shift. The album is punctuated throughout
with his very capable guitar work spanning styles from rock to
jazz. The relationship songs range from whimsical on "Out Of My
Mind" to the more serious "Love Is Our Cross To Bear."
displays a keen sense of humor singing about "Winter Cows:"
"Some dream of Florida of roaming the beach
With metal detectors for gold they can reach
Some dream of India where their cousins are stars
But they don't like the crowds, so they stay where they are"
Palace" is more a more serious tale about a house of prostitution
with heavy handed lyrics
Blues Palace it's a Palace of the Blues
For used lovers and junkyard news
There's nasty women who will cater your affairs
With white lightning and sugar upstairs
the somber mood is contrasted by a soulful sax and deft Stratocaster
which give it a jazzy Windham Hill feel. Ironically, he signed
with the label's imprint, High Street Records, in 1989.
There are really no surprises here - fitting as Gorka has been
a model of consistency over his entire career..