Strong tunes… and some tuning issues
New York-based songwriter Dave Goddess and band deliver another punchy and catchy album: ‘Back in Business’. The title is no doubt a nod to the conditions under which the album was created and recorded – this being another lockdown record. The title track certainly makes for an appropriate statement of intent, kicking off with a rocking track – all power-pop guitars, swirling hammond and a strong hook. It’s the template for the album as a whole. Goddess has pretty much mastered his chosen craft – songs in the vein of Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and others influenced by Bob Dylan. The Petty influence is strongest here perhaps, as many of the songs have a strong pop sensibility. The songs are well-crafted, with defined melodies, strong choruses and arrangements that do their job very effectively. Stand-out tracks include ‘Calico’ with its bluesy driving groove, and ‘Signs of Life’ with its 12-string electric Byrdsy vibe. But actually there are a lot of strong tracks to choose from.
Goddess makes no apology for the straightforward nature of the music, or indeed for the obvious influence of his musical heroes. Everything here is familiar-sounding, both in the writing and the arrangements. If judged on those terms, then this could be considered a really successful album. If you are looking for something more original and contemporary, then perhaps it isn’t for you.
With all the strengths of the writing and the general quality of the musicianship, it is a surprise and disappointing that some of the tracks are marred by guitars that are not always completely in tune (e.g. ‘You Can’t Get There From Here’, ‘I’d Do It Again’.) Claiming to make music that is a bit raw and ‘frayed around the edges’ is all well and good, but it’s not worth spoiling a decent track with sloppy tuning, even if it’s just the opening guitar lick. To borrow a phrase, and if this writer was the one playing the guitar, I’d ‘do it again’ (after tuning up).