GIG [Randy Goodrum, Dave Innis and Bruce Gaitsch] – Brave New World (2018)

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Is GIG a supergroup? Randy Goodrum, Dave Innis and Bruce Gaitsch have written and / or played on a mind-blowing array for great albums and songs, covering a number of musical genres.

Goodrum’s impact on artists such as Toto, Steve Perry and JaR (his little known, yet brilliant project with Jay Graydon) continues to press the writing envelope. Innis, has lent his keyboard and writing talents to the Pointer Sisters, Kenny Rogers and Peter Cetera. He’s also a member of the highly successful country group Restless heart. Gaitsch, an accomplished solo artist in his own right, has composed and performed for artists as wide ranging as Chicago, Elton John and Madonna.

Conceived in 2013, GIG evolved organically with Bruce Gaitsch and Dave Innis providing most of the music and Randy Goodrum the lyrical heft and additional melodies. The results on their new album Brave New World are predictably strong.

“Private O’Toole” kicks things off in fine fashion with Innis’ acoustic piano setting the scene around Gaitsch’s elegant acoustic guitars. Goodrum’s vocal delivery reminds me of Steve Miller’s, in that he has a boy-next-store delivery which immediately brings you into the story. Of course, the boy next store could never quite sing as well as Goodrum, or convey a story as well. The song is unmistakably crafty and well produced, tying touches of organ, Gaitsch’s soaring electric works and a tasty hook.

“Hernando’s Paradise” picks up the pace on Brave New World with a strong rhythmic back drop, soaring Randy Goodrum vocals and warm acoustic keyboard sounds. Bruce Gaitsch again demonstrates why he’s a first-call vet, as his electric solo elevates the song to a higher plane yet never interferes with the theme.

What is unusual, given the current state of music, is that GIG’s songs are played rather than programmed, with the likes of Keith Carlock (Steely Dan) and Billy Ward (Bill Champlin) on drums, and George Hawkins Jr. (Kenny Loggins) on bass. Their sympathetic playing and deft production are evident.

“The Box” could have been a Part 2 to the JaR song “Call Donavon.” Lyrically, Randy Goodrum mines familiar territory and the melody seems JaR-like. Gaitsch’s acoustic guitar is welcome, as it blends perfectly with the piano of Innis and complements the backing vocals provided by Janey Clewer.

“Peddler, Pete” is among my favorite GIG songs. The country-tinged acoustic ballad finds Goodrum working his lyrical magic amidst the lovely piano of Innis. His storytelling of a frontier is moving and vivid.

“Isle of Pigs” sounds deceptively graceful. Randy Goodrum, ties in historical and mystical references with a Latin-inspired melody of Innis and Gaitsch, which is among their best. Gaitsch and Innis’ dance with each other on acoustic guitar and piano, as a fretless bass provides additional sonic heft. This is, indeed, great pop music. The title track, “Brave New World” may not match “Isle of Pigs” in melodic gravitas, but it has a simplicity and directness reminiscent of the best early-’70s MOR music. The song is vivid and enthralling.

GIG’s album-closing “All I’ll Ever Need” is an unexpected treat among unexpected treats. It was originally recorded as a demo with the late Warren Wiebe’s vocals for songwriter Michael Haddad. GIG lovingly retains Wiebe’s evocative and pristine voice and builds on the demo track, providing a brand-new backing with a tight rhythm complete with soaring backing vocals, swirling Innis organ parts and chunky Gaitsch guitar textures.“All I’ll Ever Need” ties GIG’s Brave New World in an uplifting and tidy bow.

Yes, GIG is indeed an unlikely supergroup, and Brave New World deserves your attention.

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