Goodtime John: Beauty and Chaos review – Rustic brilliance from unsung Irish songwriter
Beauty & Chaos
Singer / Songwriter
Is Goodtime John doomed to go down as one of Ireland’s most underrated singer-songwriters of all time? For certain he’s been making great records for almost 20 years without getting all due respect.
Take his previous album, Veil, released in 2016 under the name J Cowhie. Using Moog synths, electric piano, organs and marimbas (among other instruments), John constructed a beautiful suite of haunting electro orchestration, punctuated by pretty melodies. It was one of the most undervalued Irish albums of the year, as per.
Now, we have Beauty & Chaos, a project that embraces a more rustic, acoustic folk sound. Play the title track through headphones and let it transport you to a creaking old cabin in the woods that you’ve probably never been in. Adding to the quaking orchestration, songs such as Sometimes deploy light electronic percussion sections (a tactic that will be familiar to fans of Bon Iver, a noted cabin-dweller himself).
Meanwhile, the deep acoustic guitar strums of Last Goodbye evoke memories of Beck’s classic album Sea Change as John laments watching a loved one crumble.
At just six songs, it feels like a minor release in Goodtime John’s enviable body of work. Still, this is a flawlessly executed, infinitely listenable set of acoustic songwriting that, if there is any justice in old Dublin town, will find the audience that John has long deserved.