John Gorka’s latest effort is an adept gem. While Gorka, a veteran of 10 albums and 20 years
of touring, boasts a folk music pedigree unmatched by most, soft rock instrumentation adorns Writing in the Margins.
“When You Sing” employs a trio of horns to fuel a feel-good second-person anthem about how much better singing makes the world. “I Miss Everyone” is an odd lark of a song, a whimsical catalog of just about everything with enough pedal steel to lend the tune a country twang.
Gorka’s songwriting ranges through introspection and emotion while steering clear of exposition, maturely contemplating war and aging. Sweet remove is the primary aesthetic of Writing in the Margins though Gorka crosses into political polemic on “Road of Good Intentions,” leaving a melancholy and acerbic aftertaste even if his sentiments demand expression. More affecting is the title track, the overriding metaphor of which exposes what’s pushed to the edges of life by the duty of a soldier in wartime.
Fellow travelers like Nanci Griffith and Lucy Kaplansky join Gorka on his album, their presence accentuating an effort so flush with skill, it’s easy to understand why they’d want join him.
John Gorka performs Thursday, May 3, at 7:30 PM at Flathead High School. $15. Gorka also performs Friday, May 4, at 8 PM at the Hamilton Performing Arts Center. $16 / $10 students.