Poppy Fields & Pearls

Poppy Fields and Pearls

by Mark Gothard

Released 2005
Released 2005
Songs you would hum to yourself walking down a dirt country road at dusk, sipping on a flask of Jack Daniels.
Los Angeles, CA’s Gothard mixes darkness and warmth in his engaging,
smart acoustic songwriting. Songs like “If Thomas Jefferson Were Here”
from the album Poppy Fields and Pearls demonstrate the kind of
unafraid commentary on human life Gothard is willing to explore.
Emotional forthrightness, a glimmer of darkness mingled with a sparkle
of light, all rounded out with strong melodies and a certain stark
directness all elevate Gothard’s music above the norm.

In the tune “If Thomas Jefferson Were Here,” this songwriter turns
his attention to social commentary, though he’s just as comfortable
exploring personal emotions. With his straight-shooting approach he
asks if the America in which we live today is the one Jefferson
envisioned. His answer isn’t positive. The theme of the song is set
off by the subtly dark tone of the music and highlighted by the
organic melodies of his vibrant, folksy songcraft.

And Gothard looks inward with as much cutting examination throughout
the course of the album. His focus shifts from broad, social scale to
introspective considerations with the ease of a songwriter at home
with his work. “All the songs on the album are different or varying
expressions,” according to Gothard. “Some are solemn, some are witty
and clever, some are driven.”

He goes on to say that “Thomas Jefferson” contains the “strongest
Expression” of the album, further explaining its status as an album
single. It also contains the signature juxtapositions of Gothard’s
songwriting. It’s serious yet comedic, gloomy yet light. In this case, the duality of Gothard’s songwriting emerges with the style
dichotomies of satire, contained in the package of a song.
He has announced that he is at work on a new album. In addition,
Gothard is currently working with A&R Select, the world’s leading
independent artist development firm, based out of Los Angeles, CA.
More information is available by visiting www.markgothard.com,
www.myspace.com/markgothard and www.arselect.com.

According to Neufutur Magazine's 7/15/08 Review:

“Poppy Fields & Pearls” is the second disc released by Los Angeles’ own Mark Gothard. For being in one of the largest urban cities in the United State, the fact that “Poppy Fields & Pearls” starts out with a folksy track in “The Skywalker Blues” is interesting. The unique style of Gothard’s vocals provides a little bit of richness to the traditional and typical acoustic guitar that is present. Despite the goofy nature of “The Skywalker Blues” (Star Wars), the fact is that “The Skywalker Blues” is a catchy and compelling song that will stick with listeners for a while after they put down “Poppy Fields & Pearls”.

“The Skywalker Blues’ is followed up by “Ode To Jack”, a slower track that touches upon R.E.M. just as much as it does Johnny Cash and the a post-Ziggy Stardust David Bowie. “Whispered In Your Ear” is a bold step forward for Gothard in that it is the longest track on “Poppy Fields & Pearls”, at a place where ey could gain or lose a tremendous amount of listeners. However, the compelling emotional intensity of the track allows listeners to easily make it through this five and a half minute mini-epic unscathed. In fact, the soft tones of the acoustic during this track may be the reason why listeners are able to make it to the disc’s two bonus tracks, “Blaze” and “300 Miles”. Instead of merely front-loading “Poppy Fields & Pearls” with the strongest tracks, the quality of songs on the latter half of the disc is equivalent to the first half.

This means that a song like “Something To Me” showcases the same type of honesty that first was heard during the opening strains of the disc. The music on “Poppy Fields & Pearls” is simple: there is little more here than an acoustic and a set of vocals. However, where the disc is complex is in Gothard’s ability to arrange the different compositions into things that are decidedly more than their constituent parts. While Gothard has been playing around the Los Angeles area the last few years, it should only be a matter of time before ey is coming up with a nationwide tour. Make sure to pick up a copy of “Poppy Fields & Pearls” to see the magic, the allure of Gothard, and familiarize yourself with these tracks before any tour comes to your town.

Top Tracks: Sleep, Yard Sale

Rating: 8.0/10

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