I have to admit, Eric Goulden’s 1980 American 2-LP set, Big Smash (on the much-heralded Stiff/Epic imprint) was a tremendous influence on me and my then-burgeoning attempts at songwriting. “A Popsong”, “Take The K.A.S.H.” and especially “Broken Doll” were firm favorites and still very much loved by me (I still do “Broken Doll” in my acoustic set). Now, after many stellar releases over the years, Mr. Goulden has delivered Leisureland – as mentioned several months ago, here on MusicTAP – which is one of the finest works he’s created and proof that some songwriters get even better over time.

Recorded in the aftermath of both his battles with COVID and a heart attack, this fifteen-song collection is Mr. Goulden’s “look at where I’ve been and where I come from. Maybe to get my mind off the ultimate destination.” Opening with a Fender Rhodes-driven groove, “Southern Rock” has a natural warmth as a lyrical travelogue; leading to the sweetly-melodic, synth-laden “Inside The Majestic”, an instrumental that has an incredible cinematic power to it – you don’t need lyrics or singing to see and feel this piece; “Badhat Town” has a wonderful, instantly-classic feel to it, with its use of reverb guitars, synth embellishments, crisp acoustic guitars and early ’60’s-style fills and riffs.

“Standing Sunday Morning” sounds like a narrative of observation, wrapped in synths, a piano riff and, yet again, an enveloping melody (note: this album sounds of vintage synthesizers, keyboards and guitar amps, which gives it the “humanness” it deserves); “The Tipping Point” is another instrumental and simply gorgeous – an ethereal moment of space and sky and breath – imagine an open desert road, if you will; “They Come Free With Cornflakes” is the most interesting track on this album, as the vocals are more spoken than sung, but it adds a dramatic punch to a lush musical background and “Drag Time” is in the vein of Mr. Goulden’s earliest singles – pure pop, smart lyrics and hook-y as all get out.

In a time when strong albums are far and few between, it’s a comfort and joy knowing that Eric Goulden is still out there and sharing his work with us. He’s been a treasure in my musical orbit for the past 40-plus years and for him to deliver a work like this… I am, for one, grateful and appreciative.


Leisureland is currently available


By Rob Ross

Rob Ross has been involved in the music industry for over 30 years - as guitarist/singer/songwriter with The Punch Line, freelance journalist, producer, manager and working for independent and major record labels. He resides in Staten Island, New York with his wife and cats; he works out a lot, reads voraciously, loves Big Star, traveling down South and his orange Gretsch. He's pretty groovy!