Album Review: Beneath Starry Skies

Despite the distinctly raw and real finish of this, the third in an album trilogy from Derek Lee Goodreid, these songs feel perhaps to be some of the grittiest or most emotionally poignant yet. The album’s title track kicks things off and Goodreid’s undeniably passionate and freely expressive leading voice pours through with magnetic levels of energy. The musicianship matches the height of this vibrancy, and the track intrigues and energizes almost in the way that a live performance would.

In reality, the sound of this album fits in perfectly as a follow-up to God, The Devil & Iand Feel It! – to listen to the recording style alone makes perfect sense, but musically there seems to be a little more distortion and tension here, which gives the style a louder, heavier feel. After the opener though, Run, Rabbit, Run hits with that Elvis-inspired space and organic rhythm that we know and love from Goodreid’s previous offerings.

As the music settles in, the concepts begin to drive the experience. You grapple with the energy and artistry of the moment to pick out scenes and ideas that help paint a clearer picture. Reaching out more intensely than the words though is Goodreid’s vocal delivery, the final moments see the artist lose himself within the melody and the moment, and this in itself is something that becomes all-immersive and easy to escape into.

Saturday Night takes a turn for the more literal, detailed story-telling – it quickly connects and is easily related to and understood. It feels accessible and entertaining. While Goodreid’s thoughts are a little out there and occasionally dark, they’re often exactly what we find ourselves considering during a sleepless night or a long drive home. Red Rum follows andsatisfies in an authentically passionate, emotionally howling manner. The realness returns and is bizarrely captivating, making you curious to catch a live show for that in-the-moment intensity that runs so strongly throughout his music.

Beneath The Howlin’ Light opens up with a superb bit of retro Americana guitar work, this fast paced, folk-rock shuffle ensues, driving the movement of the piece and reminding you of the musical skill that is the backbone of the project. Be Still follows and the delicacy is sudden and striking. The spacious, acoustic guitar and the strings create a mesmerising arena – within which the softer, more vulnerable side of the artist’s singing and writing shines beautifully. The placement of this song within the project is perfect, there’s a huge contrast between what came before and what you get right at this moment, and for this reason it stops you in your tracks – as you listen to the story-line and as you hear the singer’s clear connection to the details.

Utilizing contrast further, Free Your Own Zoo follows with immediate energy and pace – a free flowing, western style piano part and a manic drum line accompanies one of Goodreid’s most intense and heavy vocal outpourings yet. In among the chaos, certain lyrics stand tall – particularly those preceding the final repetition in the outro of start again. 

Old Before My Time offers the refreshing strum of an acoustic guitar, a hypnotic melody, and an inclusive story-line that’s all at once intriguing and somewhat unbearably on point. The realism is immense, this runs deep in his songwriting, and the presentation is as honest and open as the lyrics – adding genuine value and a further means for it all to connect. This song is personal highlight, it would captivate either as a solo acoustic performance or with a full band, and it’s easy to listen two or three times over.

My Wheelbarrow as the penultimate song paints an effective musical scene around you, great rhythm and great skill intertwine, plus a unique chorus of voices and a quicker delivery build something striking and memorable. Push Comes To Shove follows and brings the album to an intimate and sleepy finish. Goodreid’s voice traces the lines of the guitar riff and the whole thing feels like a live, in the moment, unedited outburst of expression and personal turmoil. As he wanders off creatively into his thoughts and into this moment, you can’t help but follow him.

Derek Lee Goodreid has so many songs to his name already, and so much musical ability to match. At the same time, he manages to stay entirely true to himself as an artist, in among a vast and saturated world of music that attempts to demand so much specificity. His music will always have a certain refreshing air of truth to it, and it’s more than worth your while to scope it out.

Rebecca Cullen

Founder, Editor, Musician & MA Songwriter

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