BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
It’s been awhile since there’s been a new James Taylor album to placate the public, and now… it appears to have arrived in the form of John Gorka’s latest offering, Bright Side of Down. Okay, that may seem like an inappropriate pretext when one considers Gorka’s own admirable track record, but the comparisons are often inescapable.
On tracks like “Don’t Judge a Life,” “Thirstier Wind” and “High Horse,” Gorka emulates JT’s easy, amiable delivery, blending bittersweet adages with an unfailingly affable style. Still, it wouldn’t be right to simply shrug him off by dwelling on passing similarities; the fact is, Gorka’s a superb songsmith, and when he describes his bleak snowbound journey on “Holed Up Mason City” or ruminates with furrowed brow on why it’s okay to “put off until tomorrow what you can fail to do today” via the ironic “Procrastination Blues,” he does so with a knowing glance. Gorka’s tender, unassuming vocals and penchant for casual interludes – check out the Macca-like “Honeybee” or the touching title track – make the album as reassuring as a Sunday morning serenade.
Chock full of affirmation and illumination, Bright Side of Down is just the perfect pick-me-up for these frequently turbulent times.
DOWNLOAD: “Holed Up Mason City,” “Don’t Judge a Life,” “Thirstier Wind”