I was gifted with an EP called “Impossible to Pick Up” by Gozer Goodspeed and his music is far from predictable. Hailing from Plymouth, UK, Goodspeed prides himself in writing music that is adaptable in that it contains Folk music that grasps elements from every genre and blends with stylings of modern music. His music has been recognized and appreciated by BBC Introducing, international radio stations, as well as a growing fan base that includes Folk music aficionados. He’s played 75 gigs last year and have played over 700 gigs to fans in West and Southwest England to date.
With a music CV as such, Gozer’s music must have something special that engages the listeners or it must invite an experience, right? So, I was curious as to the reason why people will come out in droves to see him perform his tracks repeatedly. What is the “IT” factor that makes Gozer “Impossible” to ignore as an artist?
To get my answer, read on!
Let’s start with the opening title track that alludes to those things in life that are hard to grasp or hold onto – be it vices, beating addictions, finding love, or fighting day in and day out trying to get through life and how that lifeline or life raft seems impossible to grasp when you need it, Goodspeed sings “some things are impossible to pick up / some things you let go and something else steps in the breach / give me something I can see / give something I can feel and believe / give me something I can hold in my hands / give me something I can still understand / some things feel impossible to give up / but you quit them after one last blast / some things are impossible to drop.” Goodspeed ebbs between aggressive vocalizations and mellow executions which plays well with the textured instrumentation of the track.
“Impossible to Pick Up” places you in deep thought. From the first opening bar, you hear that traditional Folk music just dripping, dripping, with subtlety and practicality, but those changes within the song that gives it such texture are those synths, hand drums, and acoustic guitars descending and modulating so beautifully. It gives off that same Symphonic Rock-Progressive musical effect that the Moody Blues’ music did in the 1960s. That hook stays with you man – honestly – that yearning, questioning, appeal of Goodspeed’s singing lingers.
I like to call the second track “Survivor by Habit” the mamba of the four tracks as it sneaks up on you mellowly and then strikes with a musical bite that stings. It is quite dark in its musical chords and tempo, but it is not death dealing as it mysteriously rides light and is bright with melody. A galloping guitar and bass drum opens the track, and Goodspeed sets up his verses to slowly build telling the story of a man who defies the laws of life just by being a survivor by habit. In the musical solo at point 2 minutes / 19 seconds, it sounds as if the artist’s fingers are actually climbing up the six strings and that is met with the bass and organ – spectacular! This track is Folk music laced with Blues and Rock. And as quickly as it meets you, the track slivers away.
The most Psychedelic-Folk track of the four is “The Key Broke Off Clean in the Lock” with its almost Bob Dylan implementation. The metaphorical track plays like a narrative with trippy synth effects and a harmonic hook. Goodspeed elevates the hook and verses by adding in snippets of vocal euphoric interludes that scale and disappear. This track is infectious with its tight structure and chill-appeal.
The final track is “Keep Your Expectations Low” and it clearly tells a tale of living life to the fullest – Goodspeed sings “Keep your mind alive and your powder dry and your wits sharp.” What’s additionally great about this track is that although it exhibits the most Folk, it has a bit of Funk layering with the bass guitar establishing a rhythm line that grooves, and the bass drum setting the musical foundation. This track is written well and is proof to never underrate the appeal of a traditional track and its power to pull in listeners. It was great to close the EP with this track sewing up the mouths of people who turn up their nose to acoustic music.
Which brings us to my conclusion.
Remember I posed a question at the outset of this review regarding why people continuously go to see Goodspeed perform and why this man has accumulated so many fans and attention from TV and radio? Well, I’ve listened and found the “IT” factor that makes Gozer “Impossible” to ignore as an artist and that is his music, it transports you – it gives an experience, and that is what the listening audience craves – an escape from their world, even if it is just for an hour or two at a live performance or just sixteen minutes of music on an EP.
Something should happen when you put on a song – you should be either transported mentally, seduced, driven mad, warped back into time, or even just plunged into deep thought. Regardless, a good track, album, concert, or EP should leave you feeling different after you listen than how you felt before listening – it should be more of an experience versus a listen. That is what the best songs do, they involve their listeners and that is what Goodspeed embraces.
And to involve an audience, every element of the artist’s creation should feature points and highlights to enhance the listener’s experience. It shouldn’t just be the music; it should not only be the voice or its production – it should encompass ALL.
After listening to the four tracks of this EP, one can see that Goodspeed has a certain attitude that stays with you. His vocal swag is seductive and real. He does not shortchange himself or his listeners by sinking back into the musical tapestry and being soft, he is in your face in vocally painting the reality of his tracks – his life. The way he angles his tone, breaks his pitches, and elongates his vocal rhythms is ah-some.
Musically, “Impossible to Pick Up” is a collaborative effort of Goodspeed, Josiah Manning (a producer in the UK who also splits his time up as being a member of the Kris Barras Band), and Davey Dodds (former front-man of the Progressive Rock band called Red Jasper). On this EP, Manning contributes to its rich music textile by lending his skills on the keys, bass, and percussions. Moreover, Dodds contributes with his mastery over the mandolin (he cannot be overlooked on the track “The Key Broke off Clean in the Lock”).
On another note, many who know Goodspeed knows that he does not enjoy labeling his music (as does many Indie artists) because the creativity feels a bit pigeonholed and caged once the music is labeled. Yet, when I listened to “Impossible to Pick Up” that Progressive, psychedelically layered modern Folk music jumped out. It is hard to ignore. So, I am going to push the envelope, as Goodspeed loves to do, and label this EP’s style as Progressive Folk.
This will not cage the artistic approach of the artist as this is just an interpretation of this EP, in the same manner as Coldplay’s “A Head full of Dreams” was more Progressive than their “Ghost Stories” that was more Electronic / Synth Pop.
Goodspeed is a Modern Folk artist to watch. He’s unpredictable, and that’s the feather in his fedora that will keep his music being “impossible” to PASS up.
“Impossible to Pick Up” was released June of this year, so go to www.gozergoodspeed.co.uk and get your copy.