Jason Myles Goss
Coming to Ohio in September of 2011
- Combo Concert/Album Review – Jason Myles Goss2 OCTOBERAuthor: SamSome music is just made to be played in an intimate coffeehouse atmosphere.
That was the case last Friday when I traveled out to Easton, Maryland to see Jason Myles Gossperform at the NightCat, a charming little bohemian cafe with a performance room. I wasn’t familiar with Jason’s music before the show, but I was working on a tip from my brother who had seen him play numerous times back up in New England and who assured me that it would be a good time. He was right.
Originally from Massachusetts, Goss now calls Brooklyn, New York his home. His music falls squarely within the folk singer-songwriter genre, but he is far from being just another dime-a-dozen strummer. This was an assured, confident performance that he hit out of the park and gained at least one new fan in the process.
Of course, I had really made the trip to see the opener. And it’s a shame that Goss was relegated to a shorter set because he was spot-on and left more than a few audience members wanting more. Goss’s style can be described as a confluence of influences ranging from Ray LaMontagne to Jakob Dylan to John Mayer, but if I had to guess, I’d say his biggest influence has been Josh Ritter. Like Ritter, Goss sings hyper-literary tunes with subjects spanning the spectrum from wistful love songs set on Coney Island to a stripper in Mississippi to a cancer patient in the hospital to Chester Copperpot. And yes, that is the Chester Copperpot of The Goonies fame. I spoke with Goss for a few minutes after the show and he told me that he was an English major in college which perfectly explains his deft lyricism.
Goss’ voice is also similar to Ritter’s in that it carries a certain resonance that can wield both emotional heft and simpler levity. He played the song “Coffee and Wine” like a good-natured combination of Demetri Martin and Stephen Lynch while “January” hit like a remorseful hymn. The undulating themes and tones of each song kept the audience sharply tuned in by avoiding the trap of falling into any one emotional rut.
After the show he told me that he loves small, intimate gigs like these where he can tell that everyone in the audience is invested in his performance. And as an audience member it was a special treat to see a performer so thoroughly focused on giving it all of his effort. So naturally, given such a pleasant first impression, I purchased Goss’ latest album, A Plea for Dreamland. It’s got quite a few of the songs he played live but with a full backing band (many of the musicians have worked with Ritter). It’s impressive to see how he deconstructed some of these tracks in order to play them with only his guitar and his voice. Still, the album itself is completely vocally driven and it can stand toe to toe with most any other folk singer out there.
A lot of these songs, like the title track and “There’s a Light Up Ahead,” paint such vivid pictures that you can completely see yourself looking out at the waves crashing against the shores of Coney Island at four in the morning or getting tossed around in the stormy weather working on a boat off the coast of Maine. And along with the visuals come a healthy dose of emotions. The primary viewpoint would seem to be a world-weary guy with the faintest sliver of hope that redemption lies just beyond the horizon. If there is any justice in this business, Jason Myles Goss will get his big break soon.
(He’s got some upcoming shows in the Northeast. If you can, I would strongly suggest you check him out.)
- 2003 Finalist in Newport Folk Festival National Songwriters’ Contest
- 2006 Finalist in the Music Makers Northeast Songwriters’ Contest
- Jason’s song “Irish Eyes” voted as #4 in the Top 10 Acoustic songs of 2007 by OurStage.com
- 2009 Northeast Regional Finalist in the Mountain Stage New Song Contest
- Jason has performed with artists such as: Josh Ritter, Ellis Paul, Duncan Sheik, Peter Mulvey, Lori Mckenna, Martha Wainwright, Vance Gilbert, Julian Velard, Jess Klein, Anais Mitchell, and Ryan Montbleau
“Every Sunday my dad and I would go flea market shopping in his black Lincoln town car, which, when you’re eleven, feels as big as an oil tanker. He would smoke Garcia Vegas and play Bob Dylan records. Now, every time I hear Dylan’s voice it reminds me of the squeaky leather seats of that car and my father’s cigar smoke.”
As a teenager Jason began recording not far from the flea market he and his dad would frequent and, in May of 2003, he pressed up 1000 copies of his first full-length album called "Long Way Down" — recorded in several stints while Jason attended Oberlin College in Ohio, where he received a BA in English literature.
In August Jason was chosen as a finalist in the Newport Folk Festival Songwriters’ Contest and in the Fall he traveled to Ireland for a month, performing on the street, playing in pubs, and writing songs for a follow-up record.
When he returned, he began booking small tours, performing throughout the Northeast at venues such as: The Living Room (NY), The Stone Church (NH), World Cafe Live (PA), the North Star Cafe (ME), Club Passim (MA) as well as many colleges and universities. Over the next three years Jason shared the stage with artists like Ellis Paul, Duncan Sheik, Peter Mulvey, Lori Mckenna, Martha Wainwright, Vance Gilbert, Julian Velard, Jess Klein, Anais Mitchell, Ryan Montbleau, and others.
In the Spring of 2005 Jason released a second album called “Another Ghost,” which debuted to a sold-out crowd at Club Passim. Reviewers described the music as "dark and disarmingly sweet," sung in a voice “raw as whiskey and soothing as honey.” Boston’s Insite Magazine dubbed Jason “a diamond in the rough” and he was hailed as “one of the brightest on the folk circuit today” by the esteemed Stone Church in Newmarket, NH. In 2006 Jason was selected as a finalist in the Music Makers Northeast Songwriters’ Contest.
Later in 2006 Jason moved to Brooklyn, NY and began writing a host of new songs.These songs were different sounding and were filled with the apprehension and excitement of being someplace entirely new. After some initial delays in getting back in the studio Jason released a limited-run live EP called “Dreamland,” recorded at the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge, MA.
“ I was writing all these songs and they were filling up most of my live sets and I wanted to get something else out there. I liked the feel of the Lizard Lounge recordings, it was a midnight set on a Thursday; it was rowdy, you could hear the bar staff clearing glasses, and we were all going for broke because we hadn't really rehearsed.”
More shows followed as plans to record a new full-length record continued to develop. In the summer of 2008 Jason began recording basic tracks for an upcoming release, working with drummer Joel Arnow (Julian Velard, The Vanity Band) who had a newly-acquired work space in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bushwick. It was a small room in an old warehouse which used to be a brewery in the early 20th century. With the help of Austin Nevins on guitars and glockenspiel (Josh Ritter, Anais Mitchell), Zack Hickman on electric and upright bass (Josh Ritter, Mark Erelli), and Sam Kassirer on keys (Josh Ritter, Langhorne Slim), Jason’s third record, “A Plea For Dreamland” was completed and released on June 13th 2009.