Music Reviews
Justin Golden

Justin Golden

Hard Luck and a Woman

Justin Golden Music

Justin Golden’s story combines elements of the meticulous and miraculous. Justin is a trained archaeologist who studied ancient burial grounds around Virginia. He found that these sites were protected as long as there were people who remembered that that stand of pines or that pile of rocks marked the graveyards. If the connection to the past is broken, and then those trees are just real estate waiting to be developed.

The inspiration of his guitar style came about in a dream. Years ago, Justin was napping at Bonaroo. He woke up from a dream, knew a cool finger-picked guitar pattern. Later that day, he played the part for local blues elder, Phil Wiggins. Phil told him that he was playing Piedmont blues. Justin has devoted himself to the Piedmont style as if he’d received a calling from the ancestors.

“Can’t Get Right” sets the tone for the Hard Luck and a Woman with its southern rock groove and hard luck story. Golden sings about setbacks in love and labor. The line that hooked me was “I had to laugh, I ran out of luck about 20 miles back.” Justin laments his failings, admitting “I can’t get it right, Honey, I hope you know I tried.”

Justin moves easily from the country blues to indie rock. “Moon Far Away” and “Oh Lord, Oh Lord” have a very stripped-down, rural blues feel. On the indie rock end of the spectrum is “The Gator.” The song has a strong affinity to the Black Keys version of blues-rock. “The Gator” was written in Florida, where Golden saw the alligators lurking in the nearby ponds as an allegory for racism in America. Both the gator and racism mostly lurk hidden, waiting for the opportunity to strike.

You can feel Justin’s commitment to the blues as a living force on Hard Times and a Woman. That commitment is also manifest in his work with the Rhapsody Project. The project works to connect students to music education and performance opportunities. It’s another way of passing music from generation to generation.

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