Sunday, October 14, 2012

New Music: Jason Gould

Jason Gould, whose new EP is just out, is Barbra Streisand and Elliott Gould's son. ••• Now that I've said that, I'm betting you're thinking: Oh God, nepotism strikes again. But you're wrong. Because Jason hasn't gone to a label to release this collection of five songs; he's done it himself, independently, expressly not banking on anyone's name but his own. ••• But that's not the cool part. The cool part is how damn fantastic Jason's voice is. ••• A few weeks ago I heard a preview of the songs on YouTube, and I was speechless. At the age of 45, after acting here and there and making a short film on his own, Jason has, in his own words, found his voice. And what a voice it is. He is an extraordinary singer -- but more than a singer, he's a voice. He gives his songs a point of view. Yes, his tone is beautiful, his phrasing, his way with a note. God knows his pipes have a pedigree, but it's not enough to have the pipes: it's about knowing what to do with them. And he knows what to do. ••• The Internet buzz is that he sounds a little like George Michael. Well, maybe the George Michael who sang "Jesus to a Child" many years ago. But really, George Michael wishes he could do with a song what Jason Gould does. ••• "Morning Prayer" is the EP's first song. Beyond the fact that this is a gorgeous piece of music, what strikes me is that Jason seems to have not one shred of self-consciousness as he sings. It doesn't feel like a performance. Rather, it feels as if he’s just woken up on one of those bright, rare days, and these are the thoughts going through his mind. It's as if he's thinking this, not singing it. There’s gratitude, wonder, and anticipation, all at once. ••• The other four songs on the EP are covers, but you'd never know it, what with all the heart Jason brings to them. On "This Masquerade," he sings simply, accompanied at first by just a guitar. You can almost picture him at a campfire with friends -- and everyone's wondering why no one has signed this guy. His singing here is almost matter-of-fact. He's got his eyes closed, and he's lost in the song, discovering its layers. ••• "Hello" is more dramatic, with Jason singing to a long lost love. There's a yearning here, a reaching, that really moved me. ••• The great classic "How Deep is the Ocean" is the most straightforward song on the EP. It's Jason and piano. There's more to this than meets the eye, though, for he brings to these poetic lyrics a certain gravitas, a knowledge that all this love carries with it a very real pain. ••• Finally, there's "Nature Boy," which has been recorded by just about every major singer out there (but no, not Streisand). To this Jason brings something new. The easy interpretation is that this song is about a boy, "a very strange, enchanted boy." But Jason's version brings it new meaning. My takeaway: This is Jason singing into a mirror, as if the boy is him. It's very special. ••• I urge you to order Jason's EP. It's the start of something, something rare. Listen to his voice. Don't dismiss him because of who he is. If you do that, you'll miss the emergence of a remarkable talent. If there's one thing Jason has in common with his extraordinary mother, he understands that a song can be a little 3-minute play, and the singer the lone actor. Songs can be stories, and Jason understands this as well as his mother always did. ••• I started this by telling you Jason is Barbra Streisand's son. One day, I predict, people will say, "I love Barbra Streisand's new CD. And you know what? She's Jason Gould's mom."

No comments: