CD REVIEW:...................................................................................
Gorka kicks up fine dust along life’s winding paths
Posted on Mar 20, 2010 by Diana Nollen.


A peaceful, easy feeling runs through John Gorka’s latest CD, lighting the path of “So Dark You See.”

The collection showcases the Minnesota folk troubadour at his acoustic finest, telling stories so personal they shimmer with intimacy. Most are original, so honest they must be borne of experience. Others feature Gorka’s music wrapped around the haunting words of Robert Burns and William Stafford, the late Oregon poet laureate.

Every track is the album’s most beautiful track. The beauty of Gorka has always been storytelling so fine you just hang on his every word. And even though he’s a wonderful guitar player, he never lets the instrumentals overpower the power of his prose.

Gorka invites other wonderful musicians along for the ride, adding mandolin, accordion, bass and percussion to some of the cuts, along with lovely vocal harmonies by Lucy Kaplansky, Eliza Gilkyson and others.

The quiet tone is set from the opening strains of “A Fond Kiss,” built on a farewell that plumbs the depths of Burns’ heartbreaking poem.

Tales witty and woeful, wise and worn weave throughout the rich texture of the album.

Even when he isn’t singing, his songs still speak. “Fret One,” which he says is his “first recorded instrumental,” sounds like a journey — traveling music for the open road, driven by percussion. A little farther along, “Fret Not” evokes a banjo feel with its peppy fingerpicking.

“I Think of You,” which the late Utah Phillips asked him to cover, rolls along its wistful way, while “Can’t Get Over It” practically makes you cry as Gorka laments the unexpected loss of a friend, without a chance to say goodbye.

The lyrics are deep, but the music will have you floating on a gentle high.

Gorka will bring his fine self back to Cedar Rapids, performing Thursday night (3/25/10) at CSPS. If any tickets are left, grab them.


Title: “So Dark You See”

John Gorka Label: Red House Records

8 p.m. Thursday, March 25, 2010, at CSPS, 1103 Third St. SE, Cedar Rapids; with opening artist Denice Franke

$17 in advance at or $21 at the door
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