Singer-songwriter Jason Myles Goss will release his fourth album, “Radio Dial” on June 17, and it’s a surefire candidate to place high on my Top Ten list. I first heard of Goss when he opened up for Popdose favorite Julian Velard last March. My first thought on hearing his clear tenor accompanied by just his acoustic guitar was, “Josh Ritter.”  Indeed, songs like “Into The Night,” “Home,” and “Bows And Arrows” could possibly be mistaken for Moscow, ID’s greatest cultural export, and the resemblance is strengthened by the appearance of guitarist Austin Nevins and keyboardist Sam Kassirer both of whom are in Ritter’s Royal City Band.

I’m not trying to suggest that he’s a clone of Ritter’s, but rather point out that Goss is part of the same continuum of literate, acoustic-driven singer-songwriters that includes not only Ritter, but also Paul Simon, Jackson Browne, and Lucinda Williams. There’s also a more than a touch of Neil Finn, particularly in the chiming guitars and gorgeous melody of “Red Letter Day,” which you stream with two others below and download from his Bandcamp site.

“Radio Dial” is a collection of stories that mainly deal with struggle and survival. “Black Lights” finds Goss in the voice of a boxer continuing to take physical and mental punishment because the crowd keeps pulling him back in. “Hospital Shirt” is the tale of a young cancer patient trying to keep a brave face in front of his mother visiting him in the hospital, with lyrics that rip your heart out.

This medicine’s a bitch, it ain’t no walk in the park
Hell, any more of this stuff I’ll probably glow in the dark
You better move that wheelchair, I’m walking down this hall
If I have strength enough to stand I have strength enough to fall
Well, every nerve in my body feels pale and cold
I used to fight to stay young, now I’m fighting to grow old
And I know your heart is heavy because it’s you that I’m needing
I know it’s hard to soldier through love when you’re already bleeding

Despite the tone of the lyrics, these songs don’t feel downbeat. Maybe it’s the sound of Goss’ pleasant voice or the solid folk-rock arrangements, but there’s a warmth in “Radio Dial’s” sound that gives it a sense of optimism amid the hard-bitten reality. You’re rooting for his characters to pull through, and also for Goss to succeed in this business.

About the Author

Dave Lifton

The perpetually cranky Dave Lifton produces and co-hosts the Popdose Podcast and contributes an occasional column when he darn well feels like it. But mostly he eats Cheetos and yells at kids to get off his lawn, which is strange because he lives in an apartment. The guiding force behind LifStrong, he can be found on Twitter at @dslifton.

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