Musician Louise Goffin is like a work of modern art. There is structure and form, but it is only when you look closely can you understand all the nuances.
From up on the tiny, crowded stage at McCabe’s Guitar Shop earlier this week, through her chatty home-spun anecdotes and emotional musical works, Goffin gave an audience new insights into her extraordinary life.
Goffin has a path and she’s taking the audience along with her. The road starts deep in the heart of her past and now connects to her future. And while she keeps it light and casual on stage, there is a lot going on here. She’s been around the block — and around the world — on a very personal journey with her music.
Having collaborated with some of the most well-known artists, Goffin continues on a search, and only she will know when she’s found what she’s looking for.
Promoting her album Apple On Fire, Goffin has the chance to revisit her past and some of the songs that had been lost for a while, those in tribute to her father, who passed away last June.
Some of the beauties on this new album include “Everything You Need,” “It’s Not The Spotlight,” and “I’m Not Rich But I’m Not Poor.” Goffin’s performance of the latter drew an emotional response from even the most tarnished concert-goers in the room.
She talks about all the subjects she’s “supposed” to: Love, loss, happiness and success, but through her voice, her years of soul-searching is apparent. Whether at the piano, the guitar or the ukulele, her bright eyes and smile are the accents on a canvas that captures an image that can be seen only in a certain light.
Goffin has collaborated with some great musicians, including Jakob Dylan, Bryan Ferry and Tears For Fears, but she could be seeking her most extraordinary writing and performing partner.
Which brings us to New Orleans-born Emmett Skyy, who played in support at McCabe’s. He’s a super talented young singer-songwriter who looks like he too has had his share of life’s experiences. Skyy’s angelic voice and thoughtful lyrics and melodies are a good blend with the presence and style Goffin possesses.
It’s a good guess that 99.999 percent of our entire world population will never have parents who were as talented and successful as Rock and Roll Hall of Fame songwriters, Carole King and the late Gerry Goffin. And chances are one-in-a-million that you will ever find a collaboration as fruitful and as inspiring as the King and Goffin team. Two overwhelmingly gifted people who managed to meet at the same time, on the same planet — in Brooklyn, no less — well, let’s just say there’s probably a better chance of finding that needle.
How could it possibly be easy to be a daughter of King and Goffin? If you outshine your parents it could be tense at the dinner table. If you use their name to get ahead, the public chastises you and calls it nepotism. If you don’t use their name to get ahead you could be stuck forever in that zone somewhere between relative anonymity and moderate success. Then there are those ill-informed hangers-on, hoping to touch superstardom — or hoping for a two-for-one booking. It must require summoning up heaping servings of dignity and positive self-reliance just to play your music.
As for Louise’s subdued personality? Let’s take a step back and mention again: Two parents from Brooklyn. For those who grew up in California, let’s say it’s a whole ‘nother ball game — and we ain’t talkin’ Dodgers, because they beat a path to the Golden State too.
Louise is not a casualty of fame to which many superstars’ kids fall victim. Instead, she has surpassed success in many regards, but mainly by singing her own song, regardless of her “privileged” foundation. She is raising her own children, for whom she lives and breathes, and through whom she can continue to experience life. Louise can play basically any instrument beautifully — ranging from electric ukulele to piano and guitar, to her little electric keyboard she’s had since she was a kid. She has proven her versatility with distinction via all of her albums.
And Louise has seen the world. Her journey brought her abroad for several years to see how some of that other 99.999 percent actually do live.
As for her collaborators at McCabe’s during her gig the other night, there were numerous highlights. One was a duet with Skyy on a tune called “Main Street Parade,” off Louise’s Song’s From The Mine CD. The two musicians clearly have a mutual respect for one another and the audience could feel the love.
Another enjoyable duet during the evening was “If I’m Late,” performed with Joseph Arthur, who is an entirely separate and noteworthy story unto himself as an established singer-songwriter and visual artist.
So maybe after all these years, that Apple On Fire — so named for daughter Louise falling not so far from the tree — has taken this time to reflect on all the gifts she’s received over the years from her family. Or maybe she’s taking a turn away and in a new direction.
But in whichever direction that path continues, and whatever discovery Louise Goffin will make next, it’s clear she’ll take the high road and her audiences will gladly go along with her.