Running with the Outliers is the first album by Gozer Goodspeed following the release of two successful Eps: The Barrell Headlong into the Night and Impossible to Pick Up. Goodspeed is an Indie Folk singer from Plymouth who has become a musical mainstay in the West Country live scene.
Running with the Outliers blends Modern Folk with elements of Blues and Rock. This album features seven songs that fully personifies the rationale involved with human behavior and emotion:
- Running with the Outliers
- Gambler’s Last Day
- Pumas & Neon Signs
- If Not Yourself, Who Do You Think Will Save You?
- King Point Marina
- February Almost Broke Me
- This Is the Pathway
This is my interpretation of the album’s five highlights.
Running with the Outliers opens with a title track that encompasses psychedelic rhythms, snarly guitars, and lyrics that just POP! The storyline speaks about how one can be incognizant to their life and surroundings, as well as life’s unabridged philosophies, questions, and realities. In addition, the hook defines how those unmindful people desperately follow the leader to form an existence, it sings, “Oh hey oh how / You’re running with the outliers now.”
This track is truly an unorthodox righteous hit! Goodspeed’s vocals and slamming guitar are mind-blowing. Moreover, Matthew Avery, Chris Love, and Mike Roberts all rip into instrumentation with skills above elemental which takes this cut over the top.
The second song, “Gambler’s Last Day” is a ballad containing intense imagery. Featuring a solo vocal with layers of harmony hugging the choruses. This Bluesy Rock – guitar driven song harkens the vibe of the deep South USA. The running theme of realistic affirmations pulls from the future and draws from the past to strengthen the present circumstances or regrets. The lyrics sing: Fortune, smile at me / I could be good if I could run free / Favoured winds, blow my way / Cigarette ends in an old ashtray / And make it please, this gambler’s last day. Goodspeed’s voice carries a resonance hat meshes well with the song’s overall Memphis, American Rock groove.
On the third song “Pumas & Neon Signs,” the dual guitars scale back some to allow this percussion-heavy track to ride out. The lyrics describe the duality of life’s problems and warning signs and how humans wrestle with heeding warnings before they grow into monsters. Goodspeed lyrically illustrate this theme when he sings: Been dreaming of a puma sitting on my chest / Staring into my eyes, choking off my breath / And I just don’t know the way it’s going to go / Will it let me live? / Will it run away? / Will it savage my body? / I just can’t say . . . Been dreaming of a neon sign lighting up the sky / Falling onto my head, burning in my eyes / But I can’t discern any of the words / Can the words be read? / Is there a message written? / Is something being said? / Will it always stay hidden? To further describe this dual battle, Goodspeed titles the track cleverly with the word “Puma” clearly illustrates the ferocious demeanor of problems and how they linger and lay heavy on the mind and heart, and man’s lack of understanding of his fate. Then, the words “Neon Signs” represent warning signs in life.
“King Point Marina” is one of the best pieces on this album. The violins and intricate lyrics soul-search and delve deep into the listener’s heart and evoke such clear emotion. The storyline is about finding redemption in the strangest places and how fleeting and bewildering that moment can be in life. Vocally, Goodspeed stays low and solemn, but this vocal effect plays well on the ears and allows for the audience to reflect on consequences. This is wonderful Bluesy Folk music. It is as if Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton had a midnight music session and out spilled “King Point Marina.”
The album closes with the most edgy track in the collection. “This Is the Pathway” – declarations of self-identity – the most edgy out of the collection. Goodspeed’s vocals are a bit rawer in its resonance and drags more to illustrate a more contemplative, yet conversational, tone. The lyrics spell out the meaning of living life and finding nirvana: You’re speaking a new language / Now you swim with the tide / Your head’s full to bursting / Got a tinderbox for a mind / But you’re still asking is there an elsewhere to find? / Rain in your coffee cup / Rust on your car / Greys on your body / You’ve come so very far but you’re still asking / Is this all we are? / Love, this is the pathway / There’s not a right way / To cross the divide / Love, this is the pathway / There’s not a right way / You got nothing to hide.
So, according to the lyrics, it is not remaking the wheel (so to speak); in terms of life, Goodspeed is stating that there is no right or wrong way, there’s no new way, or structured expensive way – one must just LIVE and LOVE – that’s it – that’s the pathway to nirvana. That backing vocals add a nice soulful texture and reflects the soul-searching theme of the track. Instrumentally, the song consists of an acoustic guitar, amplified acoustic guitar, cymbals, and heavy bass drum that present an enlightening ambiance – this technique tattoos itself right into the listeners ears – so much so, it stays with you. GREAT!
The entire album illuminates man’s realization of self and how it is developed, re-created, altered, influenced by others, and ultimately revealed and defined. Running with the Outliers play like an engaging prose set to music where each song helps express Goodspeed’s definition of an “OUTLIER.” To Goodspeed, an OUTLIER is an individual who differs from other people in a particular group, which rings true to the accurate definition of the word, yet composition-wise and instrumentally, Goodspeed takes this a step further by explaining the RUNNING aspect, or the need for humans to follow a lead that they feel is greater (i.e. a person, idea, object, or emotion). This running with the outliers ultimately alters man’s fate by creating circumstances that present a basis to either conform or lead in establishing self. To compose music and write lyrics that show such an existential view of the human condition is superb and relays the talent and dexterity in the musicianship of Gozer Goodspeed.