Review: John Gorka’s new album bridges the past and present

January 17, 2018

This cover image released by Red House Records shows "True in Time," a release by John Gorka. (Red House Records via AP)

John Gorka, “True In Time” (Red House)

The past is present on “True In Time.” John Gorka digs into his songwriting archives for several tunes, including two he had lost, and the title cut was inspired in part by a 1970s Paul Simon song.

But the topics Gorka covers — love, guitars, dogs — never really go out of style. And as always, his material benefits from his warm tenor, eye for detail and neat turns of phrase.

Take “The Ballad of Iris & Pearl,” a tall tale about a pioneering partnership that supposedly influenced the Carter Family and Elvis, with the punchline to be found in the liner notes. There’s more music history on “Blues With a Rising Sun,” a beautiful love letter to the late bluesman Son House. “The Body Parts Medley,” a crowd favorite at Gorka concerts for years, answers the challenge to find a rhyme for “calves.”

Best of all is the title cut, which pairs a fetching melody with tempo shifts. It’s so good Gorka performs it twice, once solo and once with accompaniment. “Maybe every song comes true in time,” he sings, bridging the past and present.

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