Singer/songwriter Goldman has long been well respected on the Toronto folk scene, and her material has been covered by such notables as Dar Williams and the Duhks.
But it was her relocation to Boston that fired the muse behind The Workingman's Blues, her fourth album. It's a lyrically ambitious work, with Goldman explaining, "I tried to tell a story, from beginning, middle, to end, about a young, tough workingman from the South Shore of Massachusetts, who was reconciling with his hardscrabble past, while going to work each day at 5 a.m. with the hope and determination to achieve the 'American Dream.'" His story apparently intersects with hers, so there are a couple of protagonists here.
Goldman's lyrics possess a direct quality that give them both an air of authenticity, with a song like "It's Ovaaah" suggesting one of Springsteen's Asbury Park odes. Goldman has a strikingly strong voice, one with the muscle to convey her sometimes-gritty tunes. Many of the songs pair that voice with just guitar or piano, and it's these sparser tunes that work best. "Ghosts in the Apartment" and "South Shore Man" feature mass backing vocals, but this ornate approach doesn't really suit the material.
Tunes like "Rescue Me" (with the attention-grabbing line, "everybody knows I've got the best drugs on the block") and "Courthouse" have an upbeat pop-rock feel, while piano ballad "Mr. Right" verges on an adult contemporary sound. The album is produced by Bill Bell (Tom Cochrane, Jason Mraz), with A-list players featuring Marc Rogers, Kevin Fox, Lou Pomanti, Marc Rogers and Davide Direnzo. This strong collection deserves to bring Goldman wider recognition. (Independent)