San Francisco based neo folk Americana group Goodnight Texas was formed by four fellows who grew up in diverse parts of the country and got together to write new songs in the time old tradition of Appalachian folk songs, southern hymns, and country blues. The group’s debut album A Long Life of Living is a collection of eleven strong songs fans of Mumford and Sons and Avett bros and the ever emerging genre of neo folk should take notice of. The quartet features Avi Vinocur and Patrick Dyer Wolf on lead vocals, banjo, mandolin and acoustic guitar backed by bassist Bobby Kendall and drummer Alex Nash. Their subtle and sparse arrangements are artfully tasteful, recorded with a gentle air that draws the listeners into the fine details of each song. The sound is more than just retro it is downright historic, as if the recording is a century old rather than months. “I’m Going to Work on Maggie’s Farm Forever,” is an obvious tip of the hat to Mr. Dylan delivered in pure minor key joy. While “Old St john,” barrows from Wayfaring Stranger, it is a fine us of the form. The fantastic sing along songs “Jesse got trapped in a Coal Mine,” and “Meet Me by the Smokestack,” are instant ear worms both timeless and fresh. The ominous stomp of “The Railroad,” features a relentless hook on guitar and banjo that conjures a scene of a darker time in America and pays homage to the heroes of the Underground Railroad as if it comes from the sound track from a Ken Burns film. The lilting bittersweet ballad “Chapel Hill,” and the witty “Plan of Attack,” show off how these songwriters have created a fusion of traditional form with modern flair. A Long Life of Living is a fine debut from Goodnight Texas that promises a fine future for theses dedicated musicians.
Rick J Bowen