For some, the latest album by Gozer Goodspeed is a best-of collection of his work. However, Ghosts of the Future & Past (released by the Brighton independent label Lights and Lines) is much more than that. Instead, it is a carefully selected collection of songs (some old, some new and some bootlegs) to showcase the depth of his songwriting talents. With such an impressive back catalogue, it is more like a playlist that is a doorway into his world of music.
But, taking a step back, who is Gozer Goodspeed? He is an artist who has become a regular fixture of the Westcountry music scene since his emergence in 2016. Captivating audiences with his blend of a soundtrack blues-folk-rock to accompany his impressive storytelling qualities. Not only that, but he assembles his music in a way that is not only hard to pigeonhole but a sound that is his own.
Ghosts of the Future & Past has a whopping seventeen tracks on offer. Instead of going in play order, the review will feature the songs taken from the EP/albums in chronological order. In doing so, it will show how his music has evolved into what people hear today.
From his debut EP, The Rattlebone Colour (released 2016), he has chosen the title track and “Man with the Ruined Knee”. Both showcase an acoustic sound that has some indie rock elements woven throughout it. They show that he has some serious talent, as confirmed by “Rattlebone Colour”. It is the perfect example to show off his storytelling qualities. He sets the stage with opening lines, “Well, I hope you don’t hear my bones rattling / As I bob and weave and dodge and duck and dive”. His six-string has much to say as Goodspeed, and at times, it steals the spotlight. Together, it is a combination that excels during the chorus “I feel monochrome or black and white / You’re my colour, wash over me tonight”.
“Barrel Headlong Into the Night”, “What You Got Going On, Lewis?” and “When the Blue Man Met the Headshrinker” are his picks from his The Barrel Headlong Into the Night EP. It is a shame that my personal favourite “Far Away, Blissed Out and Free” was not included. These were released a year after his debut. Straight away, you can hear an improvement in the production of the music, but they still have that edgy acoustic sound that fans have come to expect.
His lyrics continue to impress, especially on “When the Blue Man Met the Headshrinker”. It is a story about a battle of wills between Ronnie and his shrink Jamie. The way he shares his words, the listener can picture the scene. The detail is impressive, and you soon learn that Jamie is not one to be messed with as “No-one beats the Headshrinker when she’s in this kind of mood”.
Goodspeed has chosen the title track, “Survivor By Habit”, “The Key Broke off Clean in the Lock”, from his 2018 EP Impossible to Pick Up. With these songs, there is yet another change within his sound. He continues to push his music with a more subtle psychedelic mood (as reflected in the EP’s artwork). “Survivor By Habit” is an excellent example of how things have changed, as the various layers of instruments create a rollercoaster of moods. The verses have a laid back vibe before things burst into life for the lines “You fell in the swamp, it’s swallowing you up / Bit by bit, you need wings to stay above it / But you’re a survivor by habit”. Look out for the instrumental section that features stunning solos by guitar and keys. It’s so good!
Ghosts of the Future & Past tells a story about Gozer Goodspeed journey with his music. And shows a glimpse of more to come
Now we arrive at his 2019 album Running with the Outliers. His previous releases have shown how he has pushed his sound while fine-tuning his already impressive lyrical qualities. To showcase these talents, he has chosen the songs “Running with the Outliers”, “Pumas and Neon Signs”, “King Point Marina”, and “Gambler’s Last Day”. These tracks feel like he has found his stride as each one of them are delivered with confidence.
Each one offers something different with its story and soundtrack, but all are quality tracks. Of them all, it is “King Point Marina” which stands out. While the rest have a fuller sound, this one has stripped things back and added some strings. It’s a fantastic moment and possibly his best song with his storytelling on top form.
The opening lines instantly grab the listeners attention “We never talk about the time / You found God in the King Point Marina / Was probably the powder or the wine / You got religion in the King Point Marina”. As the song progresses, there is an old soul about his vocal delivery. As always, his way with words continues to impress. He does so with lines, “You share a nod and you share a drink but don’t stop too long to talk or think too much / In case of consequence”. It is one of the moments where you press play, kick back, and enjoy the story.
After the trip down memory lane of the music by Gozer Goodspeed, he offers something a little different. First is an ultra-rare live bootleg of “Killjoy Bulletin”. It delivers an insight into what to expect from his live shows. His vocals sound as good as they do on the record, but his guitar are even better. He also shares the previously unreleased “Charlatans and Hypnotists”, which again highlights his lyrical talents. The last track of the album is Chris Love Smoky Remix of “Gambler’s Last Day”. It’s not very often a remix is better than the original, but this is one of those rare times when it does. It doesn’t change things a lot, but somehow, it feels more accessible. It could be the perfect way to introduce new people to his work.
So far, we have learned that Goodspeed is a talented lyricist who uses this talent to share compelling stories. Not only that, but his skills on his guitar are as captivating as his words. Also, with each new release, he continues to evolve and try new things with his sound. So, what can we expect in the future from this talented musician? Well, as the album’s title has hinted, there are some new tracks on offer. Before this album, he did release the “Rebuilt and Remade” (from his EP of the same name). Its stripped-back tone offers more of his impressive way with words.
Now for something new. Goodspeed adds the acoustic version of “Now’s Not The Time To Lay Low”, which will be on an upcoming album next year. From the get-go, his guitar skills take the lead before his vocals join in. His six-string and vocals blend to enhance lines such as “There’s a path I can discern / Past the bridges I’ve burned / I carry their ashes in an urn /People say I never learn”. It is a great track, but it will be curious to hear the final studio version.
Ghosts of the Future & Past feels like the end of a chapter for Gozer Goodspeed. Now he is ready to begin the next part of his musical adventure. With each release, his sound evolves, and the calibre of his songwriting continues to get better. Because of the trend, it is safe to say his next album (due next year) will be his best work.