Review: Goliath

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Goliath is the kind of project Kickstarter was designed for.

Steve Taylor has been in the entertainment industry since the 80’s. First, he was a vocalist, working on his own projects and bands. Then, he decided to step away from the performance side of things and switch over to the business side. He began working as a producer and songwriter, teaming up with The Newsboys and Sixpence None the Richer. He then traded in the producer’s booth for the director’s chair. He made several feature length films, including Blue Like Jazz.

During his turns as a music exec and film-maker, Taylor’s fans held on to a two-decade hope. They dreamed he’d return to the studio and record a new LP. So he went to Kickstarter and said “let’s make a CD.” And, lo, there was much rejoicing.

For his new crowd-funded project, Steve’s backed by The Perfect Foil. This new band consists of music veterans.  As as front-man and drummer for The Newsboys, Peter Furler has been a long-time collaborator of Taylor’s. Guitarist Jimmy Abegg worked with the well-respected The Ragamuffin Band, Rich Mullins’ backing group. John Mark Painter has been a session player for musicians as diverse as The Indigo Girls and Jewell. But he’s most famous for his work in the band, Fleming and John.

As soon as Goliath starts spinning, it’s clear Steve Taylor and the Perfect Foil had a grand time making the album. Every song, including the slower “Comedian” exude rock’n’roll charm unfettered by board room politics. Could it be the band was taking a stab at the arcane bureaucratic “big business” aspect of the music industry? The title track makes that a strong possibility.

It’s a real fun treat to listen to, also. The bass, guitar, drums combo is the heart of the Perfect Foil sound. It’s easy to see that the main core works well together.  They add a rocking horns section on tracks like “Goliath” and “Happy Go Lazy.”  These hooks couple into Taylor’s voice tighter than a U-haul trailer on the back of a station wagon. Other tracks, such as “Moonshot” has a lot of fun electronica samples and acoustic guitar riffs that sneak up on the listener.

If there’s a weak spot on the album’s sound, it would be Furler’s drumming. Compared to the rest of the instrumentation, it’s a bit simplistic. I can understand why he’s on the album. Furler and Taylor have been in a creative relationship for a long time. And a huge part of any music project is “who you know.”

But when compared to his bandmates, Furler is like a utility infielder. With a sserviceable glove and some precision plays, he’s a good guy to have on the team. But he’s not going to solve your shortstop problem longterm. Furler’s best role in a band is lead singer, but that positions already taken, so  the listeners have room to wonder. On the other hand, there are parts of the album he sounds amazing, such as “Double Negative.” But other tracks sound like he’s just laying down a click track — the perfect example being “In Layers.”

The lyrics on the album are a real treat, though. Taylor’s always had the reputation as an excellent word-smith, and Goliath continues his tradition. One particularly great track is “Rubberneck.” It is a critical response to our need to see the local tragedy, and how we perceive it as our right to know. “Comedian,” has a haunting reminder that “Man makes plans, God laughs.” It’s a quieting reminder that we don’t know if the plans we have will work out in the end. God knows the story, and we should put our trust in Him.

Goliath is an album made for by the fans, paid for by the fans. I think Taylor’s diehard fans will fall into two categories. It is the worthy culmination of a two decade wait. Or it won’t ever live up to the agony of expectation.  Either way, it’s an album well worth adding to any rock’n’roll fan’s collection.

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jddennis

Jordan wears a couple of different hats. Most of the time, it's the hat of the commonplace office drone. When he can escape the shackles of that particular drudgery, you're likely to find Jordan doing nerdy things with nerdy people. A fan of tabletop games, comic books, movies, and music, Jordan spends his weekends bouncing around the Midatlantic region, from Virginia to Pennsylvania, trying to fit it all in. Additionally, he is a co-founder of a fledgling social media collective, Nerd Circle Podcast Productions. He is the Game Master and Master of Ceremonies for the RPG actual play podcast, Bone Throwers Theater, and cohost of Carlin and Jordan's Most Excellent Movie Night, a cinema review show focusing on content available from the internet's largest streaming subscription service. Jordan is currently a candidate for ordination in the Free Methodist Church. So that means a lot of classwork late into the night. He's also preparing to help found a new FM society in his home county.

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