All it takes is a few notes from the opening track of S.G. Goodman’s debut album, Old Time Feeling, to know you’re about to hear something singular and special. Blessed with a one-of-a-kind voice that cuts through the atmosphere like a sharp blade, Goodman sings the kind of soul-baring torch songs that stick with you, compelling you to turn them up louder and louder and belt them out alongside her. Produced by Jim James, Old Time Feeling is a statement-making introduction to an artist already fully formed.
Those mind-blowing opening notes come from album standout “Space and Time,” a dreamy but hefty country ballad full of longing, regret, and unconditional love written in the aftermath of Goodman coming out as gay to her family. It is timeless — at home on a honkytonk jukebox, but with the kind of pop-tinged melody that begs for repeat listens. Rather than build up to the full capacity of her voice, Goodman blasts us with it out of the gate and then winds it down to reveal all its gorgeous nuances. We hear more of these soft and subtle vocal maneuvers in “Supertramp,” “If It Ain’t Me Babe” and “Red Bird Morning,” all crystalline beauties on this record.
The driving “Old Time Feeling,” along with the chest-beating “The Way I Talk,” are Goodman’s barnburners. Showing her gift for fiery, no-holds-barred rock and roll, they establish her as a force in a new generation of Southern Appalachian voices. We hear her grappling with the idea of what it means to be exactly who she is, contradictions and stereotypes be damned. We hear a strong allegiance to, and powerful love for the place that made her who she is, despite its long history of turning its back on her and the LGBTQ community. Still, her message is hopeful and she refuses to give in. “Even though they said ‘We’re not there quite yet’ / We’re not livin’ in that old time feeling,” she wails on the title track. “Stick around and work your way through / Be the change you hope to find.”