Talented Goss Needs Backup
Starry-eyed singer/songwriter and alum Jason Myles Goss, OC ’02, returned to the Cat in the Cream the Saturday before spring break, this time performing as a one-man acoustic show. Playing for a small but captivated audience, Goss performed songs off his latest studio effort Another Ghost, the much anticipated follow-up to his praised first album Long Way Down.
Goss’s set was comprised entirely of original music. A seasoned performer in his own right, he took to the stage with confident ease and interacted with the audience honestly and without the slightest air of pretension. Goss charmed a mostly female audience with songs of heartache, miscommunication and love’s funny little idiosyncrasies.
Having spent his college years at Oberlin, Goss seemed to feel right at home, and he even included a few songs he wrote as a student.
“I wrote this song late one night at my house right over...there,” Goss told the audience as he pointed towards his former residence on Woodland Street. “It feels really good to be back again,” he said.
Goss currently resides in Brooklyn, NY, and has made quite a splash on the indie folk scene since leaving Oberlin, where he was a member of the campus a cappella group, the Obertones. With influences ranging from Bob Dylan to Martin Sexton, Goss has a knack for writing songs that are both catchy and earnest, while never sacrificing one for the other.
Anyone who was at the concert or has heard his music before will agree that Goss’s airy, crystalline voice is his greatest strength. Backed only by his acoustic guitar strumming, Goss’s impressive vocals soared throughout the show as he tastefully incorporated subtle bends and inflections. Though a comparison to the sappier side of John Mayer is not without precedent, Goss does possess a vocal talent that even the best of his singer/songwriter contemporaries ought to be slightly jealous of.
Commanding a stage with one’s voice and guitar alone is not an easy task, and while Goss did succeed on many levels, there was a certain something missing in this performance that prevented Goss from moving beyond the level of satisfying (do I dare say it?) background music. While some of his songs told interesting stories and surprised the listener with clever wordplay and carefully wrought melodies, others just felt stale, like they belonged in a tedious soundtrack played on repeat at The Gap.
In other words, the majority of the songs were pleasant but a little too generic to move a listener to buy his records when there are already a plethora of artists doing the exact same thing.
If there is one thing that’s true about the music business at its present state, however, it’s that good songs don’t necessarily make good records, which is to say that a lot can happen in the studio that one man and his guitar will have a hard time recreating on stage. Goss’s studio recordings, which can be found on his MySpace.com page, are a bit more engaging than his solo live act. With the added textures of hammond organ and poppy drum tracks, songs off Goss’s newest release bear some resemblance to Bob Dylan circa 1975, at least in their instrumental arrangements. Goss should return to Oberlin with a full band next time, costly as it may be to transport the equipment, and maybe he’ll shake things up a bit more.