John Goraj - Possible

Well folks it is more than “possible”, it is in fact a post and interview with John Goraj.  Some may not know of this northern prairie boy, but you just might need to.

I first heard John Goraj when fellow blogger Olivier over on You Crazy Dreamers put a post on him, and I took a listen and liked it.  Then I kind of forgot due to my own blog and the numerous bands/artists that you find in your inbox, the day job, the wife and kids (two dogs) and I “re-found” Goraj a couple of weeks back.  I am glad I did, the album is a great indie folk/singer songwriter release.  Whether it is his soft but spirited delivery (wavering just at the right time), the numerous appearances of banjo (my favourite) or the honest stories throughout the album – it is plain and simple good.   If you were not mistaken, you might find a bit of southern influence but I can’t place it – it isn’t “gothic” but more bluegrass-ish, all while he almost chants above the music.  It can feel quite powerful at times, especially in headphones!

His album “Possible” came out last year and is available on iTunes and CD Baby.  It is great collection of 10 tracks of melancholy gospel for me.  Stand out tracks include “Kahlil Gibran from Lebanon”, “Burn” and “Baby Blue Cords”.  But overall the album is very cohesive, so I think they may feel like feature tracks because of the backing of the album, who knows – I do tend to ramble!  There is another full length album on the way in 2010 and hopefully we will be seeing an EP release this fall that will find it a digital only release on iTunes, etc.

Let’s not kid ourselves, folk music or singer songwriter can be fairly straight forward to those who don’t immerse themselves in it, so dive into an interview and a couple of tracks!

The Subject: Tony Dekker
How Do You Know Subject:
Lead in the band Great Lake Swimmers
Subject’s Reason for Speaking: Album “Lost Channels” being released March 31, 2009
Why Do We Care: Because it’s the Great Lake Swimmers new Album, damn it!

So Tony Dekker has been a good sport for a few blogs and offered up some interview time to bat around a bit of “Q & A”.  Well with the new album spinning on the proverbial playlists around Slowcoustic HQ for a few weeks, I have waited on posting this interview until a bit closer to the actual release date and launch of the tour.  Well, this is close enough, the tour has started, and the album will be out in a couple of weeks.

The “Lost Channels” album is still new to me, and while I do enjoy it immensely, I feel it is the start of a new chapter for GLS.  If anyone has been following Tony & Co. for the last few years – you will find that what I consider their signature sound, seems to be melding with a more modern full band approach.  This evolution of the band is often necessary to grow and this new album has shown much growth for these Canadian Icons.  Do not fret, there is still the signature hushed deliver of Dekker on many tracks (New Light, Concrete Heart) along with transitional songs (Palmistry and Everything Is Moving So Fast) to the full newer sound (She Comes To Me In Dreams and The Chorus in The Underground).

The album finds great folk roots at its heart, but it brings with it the flowering of blue grass and even countrified slide guitar.  In listening, you could place the songs on different sides of the same coin (if not a vinyl release) as you might almost feel it being two EPs, fused into a full solid release.  While I will always enjoy the lone acoustic GLS, there is something to be said for the ability to flex your sound to something that might possibly “rock the house” at any specific moment.  I am sure the live show is going to be spectacular, especially for this album.  Well enough, lets hit the recording backstory then follow it with interview below!

Backstory on the recording of the album:

“…their fourth album set for release on March 31st, finds them once again recording at historic locations. This time in the Thousand Islands region of Ontario and New York state, telling tales of hidden histories, still “mining for light in the dark wells,” still “tuned to an instrument of greater and unknown design….  Dekker chooses to record in old churches, community halls, abandoned grain silos and rural locations. It’s easy to hear why. His voice doesn’t need any studio embellishment, standing at its strongest when bathed in natural reverb and enriched by the historical context surrounding it.”


The day has come (or actually tomorrow, March 3rd) and we have the release of the debut album from “The Cloud Hymn”.  I have been waiting for this album for a while now ever since I started listening to a few demos last year and was so impressed, that I had to post then…on just the demos!  Well, here we are and a full album is hitting the streets tomorrow and John Nielson and crew have not disappointed.

“A Seed Buried In The Ground” – is a gorgeous lo-fi journey.  You get an almost entirely acoustic album, with just the right amount of accent from piano, harmonies and what could only be called, the aura of the album.  This aura is one that walks the line of melancholy, darkness and hope, all while you sit there transfixed.  I find that this is the kind of album that listens just as well on play 149 as on play 3.  One look at my stats and you know I can’t put the album down.

The demos I originally posted on are all on the final album release and are left almost untouched – they are still incredibly stunning – the kind of songs that curl you up in a ball or move you to that comforting place we all have.  While much of the album was created out of unfortunate circumstances according to Nielson, the beauty created and the music that emerges from your speakers is refreshing, honest, spiritual and could be your “touchstone” in finding where you are and then where you need to be.

The Cloud Hymn’s “line up” hasn’t changed and is still the work of its creator – John Nielson.  John gets integral assistance from two of his biggest proponents and great artists themselves – the astounding Tani Alyssa (her MySpace) and another Slowcoustic Favourite Paul Brandt (Cranes & Crows).  While the album is a top album of the year so far, with holding power, let’s hear from John and some questions on him, his music and what is happening in the local music scene around Wisconsin.