Jimmy Goodrich — The Last Bastard (self-released)
If you knew nothing at all about Jimmy Goodrich, you’d learn as much as you’d need to with a simple spin of his new release, The Last Bastard. You wouldn’t necessarily know that, after 20 years of applying himself to the craft of song-writing and mastering most of the instruments played here, this is his first time out with a proper, full-length album. Nor would you guess that the Bristol-based singer-songwriter actually hails from Sackville, New Brunswick – after doing time in musical circles in Halifax, Montréal and Vancouver, with sidebar excursions to India and Asia – before following his heart to find himself in the U.K.
Surely one of the last of the great romantics, Goodrich may have taken some time to get here, but he has created a true labour of love, replete with acute levels of attention-to-detail, clearly visible in every facet of its creative expression.
Easing you into his sound, Goodrich begins with “The Bottom of the World” which, with his polished British accent and little more than Chris Apthomas’ B3, sounds not unlike Wall-era Pink Floyd, right down to Goodrich’s own searing guitar outbursts as the composition builds. His reverse, dark twist on The Carpenter’s unquestionably upbeat “Top of the World”, serves Goodrich well as he dissects our current state of social decline to the point of personal despair.
And, speaking of despair, the background chorus’ repetition of the title (“Murder Me”) provides an effective technique to simulate the pounding, panicked heartbeat of a fox being pursued by hunters. Despite Goodrich’s skills at playing the majority of instruments across this full recording, he leans on the tasteful distraction of Neil Smith’s (This is The Kit) Mick-Ronson-like stab of droning guitar, offsetting the predominance of piano, as Jason Newman adds potent drums across multiple time changes.
Cue the near-flamenco acoustic guitar intro of “The Bank In The Sky” as a host of background vocals skewer the notion of human greed, economic collapse and bankers in genera. Adding to the overall bleakness with the hypnotic strains of “Oh, my God…what am I gonna do?” over vibraphone and Melodica (both, Goodrich) the song fades out over shimmering electric guitars. Newman returns on drums while Jon Short covers bass with Apthomas on keyboards.
What begins as a seemingly simple piano ditty on “Over the Limbo” – one of the disc’s crowning achievements – it slowly builds in intensity to reveal a highly poetic lyric set against an exotic, other-worldly waltz, if not complete flight of fancy. Deliciously chaotic themes embracing everything from love and hope blend with elements of alcoholism, loneliness and death – all pasted atop an increasingly complex level of shimmering guitar, full chorale of hypnotic backup vocals, the warm, acoustic bass of Jim Barr (Portishead) and a dash of strings. This is a track one would love to experience live.
The title track features the same lineup as “Bank”, again focused on Spanish-hued acoustic guitar as Goodrich’s breathy vocal chronicles the dying regrets of a nasty man not quite ready to go. The addition of electric guitar atop its Spanish setting appears to underline the message of trying to do better.
The hard-edged, prog-like guitar announcing “Perfect Lover” is all threatening and aggressive-sounding before retreating in the face of a lighter-than-air, whistled melody, revisited and underlined by its recurring guitar attack to full effect as Goodrich births a somewhat combative love song for our disenchanted times.
Another dark tale, suggesting a weekend with Vincent Price, “Blood Monster” struts Goodrich’s cast of creative friends, combining to help build a most sinister vibe. Goodrich’s highly theatrical vocals merge with Adrian Utley’s (Portishead) synthesizer and Clive Deamer’s (Radiohead) drums – made even darker given the Fantasy Orchestra’s string section and Lizzie Lipscombe’s viola solo. Stew Jackson (Massive Attack) adds the electric guitar solo and shady soundscapes while Kate Stables (This Is The Kit) reinforces Goodrich’s vocals as Jim Barr mans the bass. Assembled around the common goal of raising funds for a worthy charity, Goodrich’s lyrics depict an evil spirit polluting our world with hatred, division and violence – revealing this shadowy anecdote as being far more than discomforting fiction.
The delicate, velvety touch of “Joanne,” providing a gentle close to the disc, is all-Goodrich, accompanying himself on piano and acoustic guitar –a pointed, tender-hearted love letter directed to his mother.
Mixed and mastered by Jim Barr in Bristol, England, The Last Bastard proves Goodrich to be a studied, if not sophisticated singer, writer and arranger. Over the course of eight varied tracks, he may also prove to be the last of the great undiscovered talents, offering significant range, rich, untethered potential and an avant-pop approach which quickly distinguishes him as someone to watch.
And if this is, indeed, The Last Bastard…the music business could use more like him.
Find more information about Jimmy Goodrich here: http://www.goodrichmusic.co.uk