In the case of the new album from sublime roots singer-songwriter Jim Gaudet, “So Far So Good” just doesn’t cut it as a title. Really. He should re-name this sucker, “The Good Just Keeps Gettin’ Better.”
One of Nippertown’s very finest songwriters, Gaudet has a knack for crafting a mighty memorable melody – the kind that’ll get you singing along even on first listen. His delivery is wry and witty, often saying just as much with his pregnant pauses as he does with his lyrics. And lyrically, he’s poetic, literate and more than just clever.
After a string of excellent albums that culminated with “Give Up the Ghost” on the Prime CD label in 1998, Gaudet dropped out of the music scene for nearly a decade, but he came roaring back with the sparkling “Re-Calling It Quits,” one of the best discs of 2007.
And fortunately we didn’t have to wait long for the follow-up, and this one is undoubtedly headed for the 2009 Nippertown Top 10.
While Gaudet fans will embrace the new CD with plenty of enthusiasm, “So Far So Good” is actually something of a departure from Gaudet’s earlier albums.
For one, this is a true band effort, and as befitting the first credited to Jim Gaudet and the Railroad Boys, the Boys – bassist Bob Ristau, mandolinist-lead guitarist Sten Isachsen and fiddler Tim Wechgelaer – get plenty of opportunity to shine in the spotlight.
Secondly, the album leans away from Gaudet’s usual folk-oriented approach and heads straight into high lonesome bluegrass territory. And these guys nail it. The vocal harmonies simply soar on original gems like “Get Up John” (not the bluegrass classic), “Jealous Heart” and the traditional “Hand Me Down My Walking Cane.”
But this isn’t just strictly a bluegrass album – not by any means. You’ll also find some whiskey-soaked roadhouse honky-tonkers (”Drive” and the love-gone-wrong nugget “Mind Over Matter”), a couple of chuggin’ train songs (the opening “Born to Be Lonesome” and the closing “Railroad Kill Bill”), some country twang (”Callin’ My Name”), a bit of finger-picking folk (”This Time”) and even some heavenly gospel (Gillian Welch’s “By the Mark,” the only cover song on the album).
In short, Gaudet has never sounded better or more confident. His voice is strong, and he takes more chances with it. Compare the title track with the version that Gaudet recorded for his 1994 album, “It’s a Colorful Life,” for example.
Much of the album was recorded live in Bender Studios in Delmar – the musicians playing all together at the same time, rather than layering on the one-at-a-time overdubs. And it shows. The proof is in the rich, warm, organic sound, which brings out the best in these stellar songs.
- - Greg Haymes, Nippertown.com, Thursday, June 25th, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
THE RAILROAD BOYS
far so good
Gaudet and the Railroad Boys
The new collection contains 11 songs all of which Gaudet wrote with the
exception of the band’s arrangement of Gillian Welch’s
Clearly Jim Gaudet set out to showcase his band on this album
and he wisely positioned “Born To
Be Lonesome” as it’s opener.
The song starts out like a vintage
film that’s been shot at the
slowest possible speed, shutter barely
this train ain’t got no
tracks, with no conductor and no ticket to be punched.”
Gradually the Railroad Boys come
into focus - kick up the tempo and you feel as though
you’re riding on a ghost train to nowhere.
In the liner notes Gaudet describes how he got
the spark for the song last summer while the Railroad Boys were up in the
Songs like “Get Up John” and “Railroad Bill” would
suggest the band had been busy cooking up their own versions of several
beloved traditionals’ when in fact the
band borrowed titles that came to mind during the
crafting of original songs.
In the title track “So Far, So Good” (the
group’s token “shout along”) the
protagonist takes a romp through a used car lot to a
movie and ends up “stumbling on the real
thing” under the stars.
The song is infectious and you
can’t help but tap your toes and
feel good at the end.
“Jealous Heart” has one of
those hauntingly familiar melodies that allows for the harmony parts to
stretch out a bit.
Additional tracks include a
moody storied song called “This Time,”
a companion piece for any long distance
venture behind the wheel
“Drive” and an accidental
Jim Gaudet is the kind of man
who’s not concerned with
category or trend, he’s a man
who’s made his life out of following his
This would explain why he chose
to keep the project in-house and dedicated
to the true live essence of the
Railroad Boys ’ sound.
Far, So Good” may
band’s first venture on the rails together
but the result is a collection of memorable, hard driving,
original compositions, featuring
authentic three-part harmony and stellar musicianship.
The CD captures the spirit of the
RR Boys while positioning the listener at the
starting point of what will surely be
a promising journey.
The foursome that make up the Railroad Boys are
”So Far, So Good” was engineered and produced by Sten Isachesen and mastered by Scott Pettito at NRS Recording Studio.
Here's what Michael Hochanadel of the Daily Gazette had to say regarding the show with The Gibson Brothers:
"The Adirondack-born bluegrassers the Gibson Brothers return to Saratoga Springs on Sunday; not to Caffe Lena which they’ve packed many times, but to Lillian’s Restaurant (408 Broadway, Saratoga Springs). They better bring their A-game: Jim Gaudet and his Railroad Boys open, at 7 p.m.
The Gibsons’ (Eric and Leigh) new album “Iron & Diamonds” is their closest to home, invoking both hard-rock mines and baseball summer afternoons in the Adirondacks.
Gaudet’s “Recalling it Quits” may be the best-ever comeback album in this area, a dazzling return to form by a folk-Americana bard who inspired and influenced every serious songwriter hereabouts before putting music on hold for a decade. Now he’s back doing it again.
Tickets for the Gibson Brothers and Jim Gaudet and the Railroad Boys (a small combo, tight and tough and tender as the Gibson’s band) are $20".
--Michael Hochanadel, Daily Gazette, Schenectady NY, February 5, 2009
Jim Gaudet and the Railroad Boys open for Sugar Hill Records recording artists The Gibson Brothers
Starving Arts LLC and Saratoga Guitar Present:
The Gibson Brothers
Saratoga Springs, NY - Tickets $20
Leigh and Eric Gibson have been performing together since encouraged in their
youth by a minister in the borderlands of upstate New York, where they still reside. They
received a Best Emerging Artist nod from the IBMA in 1998 and went on to record four albums
for Sugar Hill Records- Bona Fide, Long Way Back Home, Red Letter Day, and Iron
and Diamonds in 2008.
- -Ted Lehmann, INTERNET REVIEW,.OTIS MOUNTAIN MUSIC FESTIVAL
16 & 17, 2008
- -Arthur Gonick, DJ/Host, WSPN-FM,
Jim Gaudet's 'Recalling It Quits' a sparkling release
"One of the most respected literate musical talents on the capital region scene, JIM GAUDET is the rare singer/songwriter capable of dancing across the tightrope that stretches between wit and wisdom. Over the course of 5 stellar solo albums, GAUDET poured out finely crafted, deceptively simple musical stories that were by turn wry, socially aware, poignant and darkly humorous. Following the release of his 1998 album "Give Up The Ghost" GAUDET did just that, retiring from his burgeoning musical career to focus his attention on his family. Now, almost a decade later, he's in the studio making marvelous music once again, and he's back in the spotlight again too, having recently performed sold-out shows at both Caffe Lena's and the WAMC Performing Arts studio, "Linda Norris auditorium". Local fans couldn't be happier!"
- - Greg Haymes, Preview, Albany Times-Union, March 29, 2007
"For Jim Gaudet the equation is simple, straightforward, powerful performance plus user friendly repertoire equals accessible, consistent, lasting entertainment."
- - Ellen Geisel, Hudson Valley Magazine
"His vital expressive bluesy vocals speak insightful stories in song well worth hearing"
- - Stephen Ide, PATRIOT LEDGER, Quincy, MA
"Listen to the sweet sounds created by his gritty voice and poetry."
- - Ellen Geisel, DIRTY LINEN
"Gaudet takes a straightforward, honest approach to his music, infusing songs with a subtle, naked power that's breathtaking and heartbreaking."
- - Greg Haymes, ALBANY TIMES UNION
"His songwriting has the candor and courage of a secret diary; and you don't have to read between the lines to see the importance of his work."
- - Michael Hochanadel, Schenectady Gazette
"This work, recorded direct to digital, combines live tracks with studio recordings, and overdubs only Jane Rothfield's fiddle. ... Gaudet sings with a pleasing voice accompanied by acoustic guitar, sometimes enhanced by Rothfield's fiddle and a female backup vocalist. Some of Gaudet's humorous songs sound a little like Steve Key, "What Do You Think About That" is an amusing narrative, and "In Real Life" a Walter Mitty fantasy unfolds. "Common Man" cleverly addresses the nation's gambling mania. "The Boy Who Would Be King" is a sympathetic homage to Elvis, who also pops up elsewhere on the album. "Red Doyle" is a terrific narrative that sounds like a traditional broadside, dealing with building preservation. Gaudet recorded an album to treasure...
- - R. Warr SING OUT! THE FOLK SONG MAGAZINE
"... The allure of [Jim Gaudet's] ... songwriting is built upon his storytelling prowess, which is at once captivating and convincing. Gaudet has that rare ability to relate the very essence of being human with out sinking into cliches. With an engaging performing style and the clever use of wit, gentle compassion, and acute observation, Gaudet seduces the listener into his poetic visions. Whether he tackles daydreaming, "In Real Life," marital sexual tension, "What Do You Think About That," or Elvis Presley's legacy, "The Boy Who Would Be King," Gaudet's songs honestly portray contemporary life in a refreshing manner. Based in Albany, New York, he has been a staple on the rosters of many a regional coffeehouse, club, and concert hall. You will find him opening up shows for the likes of Maura O'Connell, John Gorka and Cheryl Wheeler, or headlining at places like the PostCrypt in New York City...Don't miss him!"
- - Andrzej Pilarczyk- Jazz It Up- THE SOURCE MAGAZINE