The first time I met Justin Goodrich was inside of Milly’s Tavern in Manchester, NH. We’d talked via social media a bit, and set up an in person interview so I could finally see what all the buzz was about with this emerging New Hampshire artist. I’d been doing interviews for a while, but I still remember as soon as I walked into that room and we said our first hellos, I couldn’t shake this nervous feeling. You know the one. It’s the feeling you get when you know someone is about to be a part of your life. When you want them to like you so badly, because you hold so much respect for them. And I remember watching him play and falling in love with his songs, looking around and realizing everyone else was too. Realizing that this man had not only a way with words, but a way with people. Charisma, in the most unique way. I bought his album on iTunes the next day and listened to it relentlessly for months. Justin and I formed an eventual friendship and nearly 3 years after our first meeting, I’m proud to say that he has left me speechless once more with his newest release, In Between The Panels.
Five carefully crafted tracks spanning the last decade of Goodrich’s career make their way to the surface in this 18 minute masterpiece. And as you hit “play” on each, you’re entering a different time in this artist’s life, a different set of memories, lessons, experiences, fears, desires and passions, all revealed at the simple push of a button. Because what Goodrich has done is dig deep through a catalog of material, bringing the best to light and breathing new life into five simple, yet wonderfully intricate works, with a set of new mixes and edits.
The EP kicks off with “After All These Years,” a strong introduction to what I can already tell is going to be an eclectic mix of material. But it’s “Call My Name” that first jolts me awake, introducing Goodrich’s signature impassioned vocals with an intriguing mix of instrumentals. It’s the kind of mix that on paper might not work, but in practice, is a brilliant, moving combination. But just as soon as I think “Call My Name” has swept me off my feet, comes the energy in “May Evil Set You Free,” to make me rethink my new favorite. Fast paced rhythms and melodic vocals make the perfect combination, and I’m left hitting the repeat button more than a few times on each. Next up is the acoustic version of opener, “After All These Years,” bringing a solemn recreation to its original, before ending with the nostalgia of “Secret Love,” which just may be my favorite on the album. And with the nostalgia of those last notes, I find myself enjoying my own bit of remembrance.
The last time I saw Justin was inside Diorama Records, as he played me a new song, totally unfinished, raw in every way, and just as beautiful as the first polished song I’d heard him perform at Milly’s Tavern back in 2011. It was just before I moved to San Francisco and I remember thinking how much I’d miss getting to see his live performances. How despite the images that flooded my mind when I turned on his songs, that this was where the real magic was. Because to see the emotion, see the vulnerabilities, and see the passion all rolled up into one incredibly talented man—well, that’s something I envy New Englanders for getting to witness. Until my next visit home, I’ll just have to keep hitting repeat on one of my favorite new EPs of 2014.
You can catch Justin Goodrich at the Gulu Gulu Cafe open mic in Salem, MA next Wednesday, May 14th. Stream and grab a copy of In Between The Panels below, and keep up with Goodrich here.
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