John Gorka,
Old Futures Gone
(Red House, 2003)

Since 1991, John Gorka has built a reputation as one of folk music's premier singer-songwriters. His songs have looked at various aspects of life, combining thoughtful songwriting with a slightly twisted good sense of humor. Over the past few years, his songwriting has been influenced by getting married and raising children.

Old Futures Gone, his ninth album, contains more of the graceful, warm songwriting that we have come to expect. While some songwriters are known for beautiful melodies, Gorka is probably best known for his lyrics. He is helped out once again by fellow singer-songwriter Lucy Kaplansky, who provides some wonderful harmony vocals along with newcomer Alice Peacock.

The CD opens with "Dogs & Thunder," a song about lost love. "Always" presents a candid feeling about feeling lonely; with its happy sounding melody and lyrics, it makes you decide that feeling lonely isn't such a bad thing. "Look the Other Way" is a positive look at relationships. One of the CD's best tracks is "Trouble and Care," which John describes as a song of acknowledgment, the thought that you should acknowledge the sorrowful and celebrate the rest.

Another of the best songs is the title track, which opens with references to William Blake. "Lay Me Down" is a beautiful love song. "Shapes" describes how songs can be the perfect form of expression, and what can be achieved with the right combination of words and music. "War Makes War/If Not Now" borrows some of its lyrics from speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King.

Old Futures Gone is full of the intricate songwriting that Gorka's fans know to expect. When you listen closely to his songs, it's easy to see why he is one of folk music's most respected artists.

- Rambles
written by Dave Townsend
published 13 March 2004

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