July 17, 2014 saw the release of Christopher Gold’s fourth album, When the Buzzards Leave the Bones. This is one of the most compelling and moving collections of songs I’ve heard in a while -- intricate folk melodies paired with honest, soul-bearing lyrics. These are songs that tell the truth.
Christopher Gold is quite an act. He was born into music by way of Owensboro, KY, with a bluegrass musician for a father. He began playing guitar when he was 10, but caught the punk-rock bug a couple of years later, which saw him trading in acoustic picking for noise, volume, and aggression. In his late teens he began listening to his father’s music and playing coffee shops. Gold still plays guitar in the hardcore band Misleader, but his focus is on writing folk songs that inspire hope while being truthful about himself and his world view. He does it extremely well.
When the Buzzards Leave the Bones was recorded in two days, using a varied group of musicians called the New Old Things. According to the notes in the CD, there was a lot of on-the-spot writing, and, in many cases, the first version of a song was what was recorded and used. The version of “To the Bow” on the album is the second time the group ever played it together. Guitar, drums, bass, and vocals were done completely live. What you’re hearing on this album is essentially real music being made without a net. There’s something special about hearing music as it happened without the studio cleanup. There’s a rawness that speaks into you.
“Here with You” is the first song that really struck me and made me crank the volume. It was like someone was singing my life. It’s a stirring song of failure, disillusion, and disappointment redeemed by finding your place with a loved one. It’s a simple song with flat out devastating lyrics - epic.
“Broken Songs” is another track that evokes feelings of loss and regret, interlaced with the hope and beauty of having someone to share it all with. Gold’s bright fingerstyle is paired brilliantly with just the right amount of fiddle, and the music, lyrics, and vocals are layered in a way that speaks of beauty amongst everyday sorrows. Gold is a master at conveying deep feelings, thoughts and fears in a way that you not only relate to, but know, understand, and have experienced.
“If You’re Home” is, perhaps, the strongest track on the album, and my favorite. Gold’s soft, bright finger picking is driven by a steadfast snare drum and prominent, willful fiddle. In fact, the three instruments are not supporting or competing, but rather relentlessly driving hard lyrics that flat-out slay the listener. The backing vocals on the chorus will simply break your heart. This is music.
Christopher Gold is one of those musicians who truly just wants to write songs and play them for people, so oblige him by picking up a copy of When the Buzzards Leave the Bones at the link below. If you’re in the WI/IN area check him out at a show. Maybe we can all get him to the place where his guitar is his primary source of income and he can finally take his wife and son on the road with him. This guy deserves your attention.
+Words: Eric Chasko+