by Erin Thursby
Album: Back to Love
Artist: Tom Goss
Release Date: March 20, 2009
Find an “easy listening” quality to the first few bars of ‘Forty Years,’ the album’s first song, but it’s saved by the surprisingly earthy vocals of Tom Goss, something most people would not have guessed from the cover picture of him. His sound has an L.A. sensibility. It’s laid-back yet intense, with just the barest whisper of country rock to it.
There’s lots of hullabaloo over the fact that Goss is a gay indie pop artist, so that everything he sings is seen through some sort of gay rights lens. It’s part of his identity and he certainly must be aware that he’s being watched as some sort of symbol, but his music stands alone. Although he takes advantage of the niche market by granting interviews to gay publications and going to gay-centric events, smartly, Goss doesn’t mire his music in gay activism.
Even though I liked the album overall, the musical arrangements were just too conservative for me. I kept thinking of doctor’s waiting rooms and elevators with acoustic guitar piped in. What it came down to is that I liked the lyrics and the vocals. But what’s interesting is that I kept listening despite my reservations.
‘Sometimes We Fall’ felt so damn conventional, that I was sure I heard the exact song during the 80s– a soft-core epic, with so much piano that it nearly swallows the guitar. Lord help me, I actually liked it.
It’s a heartfelt album, and if your tastes run to love ballads backed by a sentimental score, it’s definitely for you. My tastes don’t, but I can say that I find Goss to be an excellent writer. I would like to hear him work with someone that seeks to utterly subvert love ballad conventions rather than going with the classics. Maybe next time.
by Erin Thursby