REVIEW: Angie Goeke “If I Were Honest”
Angie Goeke – If I Were Honest
Houston-based singer Angie Goeke (vocals/ukulele) released independently on April 29th her 10-cut debut recorded in Nashville. The songs were produced by Mary Bragg (backing vocals) & follow Goeke’s song itinerary that includes the complexity of being human with a candid & nostalgic tilt.
She successfully fuses genres without getting cluttered. Classic Americana, folk music, tints of bluegrass, honky-tonk, jazz – all in a haunting narrative style. Songs delve into individuals & their multifaceted personalities, the religious, the introverted women & activism, all with a somewhat cinematic storytelling style.
The Austin, TX native said she needed to “identify & reconcile all the different parts of myself.” (Being a mother, an artist, a church-goer).
With If I Were Honest — Angie laid out some engaging music in her 41-minute program that begins with “So I Pray,” — an atmospheric melody & performance. Angie’s mellow gentle tone is surrounded by the deep tones of cello (Kaitlyn Raitz) & the fiddle, violin & viola of Ben Plotnick.
It’s a nicely arranged tune with no frills or showboating. That isn’t Angie’s forte. Her vocals are quite original (a cross between several different accomplished singers but never sounding like any of them). Her approach is creative, embellished by her sincere tone.
A quick-change artist since cut 2 shifts into a more Dixieland-inspired application. It has a well-nourished piano (Kira Small) on “Leftovers.” Here Angie’s in a more show tune/saloon mode. Effectively rendered. Quite good in this realm. With Bernadette Peters energy & a slight Barbra Streisand pop. She has the power in her vocals & sustains her notes with clarity.
There’s lots of entertainment in this showcase. Angie goes rockier on “Whiskey In a Teacup” & does a fine job with gratifying vocals. All well-recorded, the organ slides through with bright guitars that sneak in & around her vocals with teasing effectiveness. It’s almost like Eva Cassidy on steroids.
There are moments when Angie’s voice can be juvenile (the title cut) in tone but there’s no denying the power & color she exudes so expertly. As she gets deeper into the song her tonality shifts into authoritative notes & exposes a bluesy gloss. Sweet.
Two prominent tunes in a cohesive voice are “Farewell,” & “Starlight.” These are slow & filled with reminiscence. “Farewell,” has a lovely backing chorale. Not necessarily a lullaby but close.
Supporting musicians — Ben Garnett (guitars), Lex Price (bass), Bryan Owings (drums) & Kira Small (organ/piano).
Angie’s emphasis is on her melodic appeal, smart words vividly demonstrated & she’s filled her album with heartwarming tunes, reinforcing tunes & immersed them in everything that is essential to good songwriting & performance.
Singled Out: Angie Goeke’s Farewell
Keavin Wiggins | 05-02-2022
Photo by Ashtin Paige – courtesy Skye Media
Houston, TX based Americana singer-songwriter Angie Goeke just released her new album “If I Were Honest” and to celebrate we asked her to tell us about the song “Farewell”. Here is the story:
Thanks for singling me out! The song “Farewell” is one of those little gems that was written in one 30-minute sitting and then forgotten about. Yet, its rediscovery resulted in a rebirth of its own meaning and a powerful reminder of a song’s ability to have a life of its own.
It all started when I was attending a house concert a few years ago. The artist ended her set with a song written specifically with the intent of it being her closer. In the lyrics, she thanked her listeners. It was a beautiful way to honor her audience and to complete the evening. I left that night with the sole purpose of writing my own farewell song to my audience.
The next day, I sat down on my back porch with my ukulele and strummed out the beginning chords. And the words and melody just flowed out. I recorded it in an app on my phone. And then I forgot about it!
Fast forward to 2020, when I started discussing making a new album with Mary Bragg. I had a list of ten songs that I wanted to record and sent them to her. She then asked if I would go through and scour all the things I’d ever written, whether complete or partial. That’s when I stumbled back upon my scratch recording of “Farewell.” I sent it, along with many other little audio clips, to Mary. She recommended we include it on the new record.
Recording “Farewell” in the studio brought the little song back to life. It was a collaborative effort with Ben Garnett on guitars, Lex Price on bass, Bryan Owings on drums, and Mary at the board. I loved that we kept its slow lilt. It feels like walking home from a friend’s house at twilight. Its hymn-like structure remained intact, but now with the subtle stylings of the electric guitar and steady shuffle of the drums, new breath filled the song space. However, this was only the beginning of this song’s journey.
Months after recording the record in Nashville, a friend of mine lost his father. His dad, Mr. Camper, had been one of my biggest fans. He was a member of our church and every Sunday would tearfully thank me for sharing my voice. He was one of the sweetest men. My friend was telling me about going through his father’s belongings and finding a copy of my first EP on his kitchen table. I was humbled that Mr. Camper liked my music so much. It was then that he asked me to sing at the Celebration of Life service. There were a few worship songs that were very meaningful to Mr. Camper, and so I quickly agreed to sing those. But when his son asked if there was an original song of mine that I could sing, I was a little lost. Most of my songs are not appropriate for a funeral. Yet, he insisted that his dad loved my original music and that it would be meaningful to do at least one. “Farewell” came to mind.
As I practiced the song again on my back porch, now with this man in mind, all the lyrics took on a new and more profound meaning. Saying goodbye to an audience at the end of a concert is one thing, but saying goodbye to a sweet man from this earth is another. Now I wasn’t just singing about the end of a day, but about the end of a life. I wasn’t singing of a hopeful reunion when the morning rises, but a hopeful reunion in a place beyond our earthly home. The lines: “I don’t know how to end / To follow the sun, behind earth bend again,” became almost unbearable to sing. The song became incredibly impactful for me, and I couldn’t imagine it still being buried deep in my phone app.
We closed the service with “Farewell.” It was a simple, and meek, rendition with just me and my uke, the way it was first written on my back porch. I will never sing this song the same way. It will forever remind me of Mr. Camper, of my own temporal life, and the living, breathing nature of a song.
According to a recent press release: “Houston, TX-based Americana singer-songwriter Angie Goeke is set to her release her debut full-length, If I Were Honest, on April 29, 2022. An independent release, the album was recorded in Nashville and produced by Mary Bragg. If I Were Honest presents a stunning, atmospheric Americana collection that melds the many facets of Goeke’s creative and personal life into one cohesive, elegant whole. The album celebrates the enormous complexity of being human and boasts a spectrum of sounds ranging from textural and cinematic to candid and nostalgic. Goeke plans some live shows to celebrate the release of If I Were Honest and already has an album release celebration scheduled in Katy, TX (on April 29th at CrossRoad, sponsored by Johnnie Walker), as well as two performances confirmed in Austin, TX (an April 30th private house concert and a show on May 1st at NeWorlDeli). She is also working on booking a summer house concert tour through Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, and North Carolina. Fans should check Goeke’s website and socials for updates on all upcoming shows.” We get Angie to discuss new music, influences, and more…
1. Tell us a little about your latest release. What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through? Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?
“So I Pray,” “Leftovers,” and “Starlight” are some of my oldest songs. So for any of the diehards (family and close friends) who were at those first concerts, they will recognize those songs. (Although they sound totally refined now!) Each song on the album really is a different expression of me. From being a mom of four, being a little girl who grew up wanting to do big things, and loving the smell of fresh-cut cotton in small town Texas, to being a worn-out adult who has experienced all the complexities of relationships. It’s all in there. And just listening to the songs the first couple of times might not really give full translation to all that’s being said. A deeper listen to the words of songs like “Leftovers,” “If I Were Honest,” and “Floored” might give the listener a deeper understanding of all the components that make me who I am!
2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?
I always loved to sing through the house as a little girl. I used to sing “in my opera voice.” And finally my parents must have gotten tired of me doing that all the time, because they had me audition for the Austin Children’s Choir. I remember that audition. I sang “Happy Birthday to You” in my opera voice. But honestly, the rest is history. I have the late Dr. Bernard Gastler to thank for teaching me those early years in a way that got me hooked. I learned to appreciate “the how and the why” of beautiful music, really understanding why the songwriter or composer made certain musical choices. So I learned a music appreciation far beyond something just sounding good or influencing musical preference. It was those lessons that pushed me beyond singing into writing.
3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?
In high school, I was selected to be a part of a jazz choir composed of students from all the Austin-area schools. The complex harmonies and break from choral stuff became a new obsession. One Christmas shortly after, I received Ella Fitzgerald’s “The Big Song Book” compilation. I listened to it non-stop. I would play the CD while also recording on a cassette tape and sing harmonies with her. It was all so challenging and fun, and I’d study the way she could be so vocally nimble, expressing sorrowful emotion one second and then scatting like she was a clarinet the next. I still listen to that album for inspiration.
4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?
I have always admired the writing of Lori McKenna. “All the Time I Wasted on You” is brilliant, and I would be so honored to create something with her. There are other artists who I would love to sing and play with on a song, because I admire their sound, but when it comes to overall writing, I think I would learn the most from her. But it’s worth mentioning that I would love to find someone to sing duets with.(So if anyone is interested…)
5. What is your favorite activity when out of the studio and/or not on tour? What do you like to do to unwind?
I love to create visual art. I love to watercolor and have gotten into making hand-drawn puzzles lately. I like the challenge of trying to make the most difficult puzzle on the planet. But I also am a TV junkie. I am usually pretty obsessed with the latest series or newest original movie. I subscribe to all the platforms so as to not miss anything good.
6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?
I describe my sound as Americana with a little bit of jazz and Texas country influence… but with a ukulele. Like if Willie Nelson and Ella Fitzgerald got together and adopted a little Hawaiian Joy Williams. Imagine the music they would make together around the coffee table after dinner! It may not be the best description, but it at least makes people curious! I’ve been compared to Stevie Nicks and Jewel… and I wouldn’t quite cringe at those, but I don’t know that I hear the resemblance.
7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?
Ha ha, this is a great question. When we’ve got the whole crew together, I’d say I take care of food, my husband is on hand to make sure everyone’s whistle is wet, and Alfred and Thanushka would crack out the guitars… but not for a singalong as much as to compare cool chords or riffs.
8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?
I was at a music conference in Austin, TX a few years ago and heard Darryl McDaniels from Run DMC talk. He is bigger than life. I was standing in line afterwards to buy his book and get his autograph. When I got to the front of the line, he said, “Hey! You’re the girl who was playing the ukulele!” I turned into a blubbering pile of mush. He had heard me earlier in the day singing in one of the breakout “open mic” rooms and had not only stayed to listen, but remembered what the song was about! I was totally shocked. I still can’t believe that happened.
9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?
I think the best part of being a musician is the creativity with something that is only heard, because the mind is left to create a mental picture. And that’s really cool to think about. Like musicians can control minds. There are so many variables in working with sound, from all the notes available, to the different tonalities of instruments or voices, to mixing and matching all those. Then you add different grooves and dynamics! It’s so exciting and requires precision while also being full of experimentation. When it all comes together AND feels like it’s coming straight from the heart, it’s downright magical. Like an out-of-body experience. I love it. If I couldn’t do it anymore, I’d have to still do something creative. I’d probably have an art studio and capture other magical and beautiful things visually. Or maybe even have a small restaurant and get creative with cooking.
10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?
Q:”You are primarily a vocalist. Does that still make you a musician?” A: Ummm… heck yeah! A good vocalist studies just as much as any other musician or member of the band. They should know music theory and treat their voice as an instrument. They should learn how to stretch their range and how to sing various styles because they have studied how the instrument works. I always get a little offended when other musicians think that singers aren’t worthy of the title of musician or receive the same compensation. If anything, it’s harder, because we have to know the notes, and the words, and if we mess up, we can’t blame it on an instrument we are holding. The question I’m probably tired of answering is, “What are you most excited about with this new album?” The whole project has been such a new learning experience and massive feat of accomplishment for me that it’s really a hard question to answer and to answer uniquely every time it’s asked. I’m excited about the WHOLE thing!
11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?
I can think of a few live gigs that I wish I could go back and do over! I also have a pretty bad track record when it comes to nervously responding to conversations in the moment… whether it be with a venue owner who was asking if I could fill the space, and my response was, “Well, that’s the question, isn’t it?” (Which didn’t get me a gig there, by the way.) Or missing opportunities to talk about my music because for whatever reason I get nervous and undermine its value in the conversation. For example, I recently went to London to promote one of the singles from the album. After returning, I was picking up a coffee order, and I was chatting with the baristas about how tired I was from my long flight. They asked where I went and why. All I had to say was London to promote some of my new music! But I skirted around it. I don’t know why I do that, but I wish I could seize those opportunities and feel free to share and talk freely about my music!
12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?
Raising Sand by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. I would have done anything to sing some backing vocals on that record. Each song has its own unique vibe, and each element is so purposeful even in its simplicity. I think it would have been fun to watch it all come together. I see it as the golden standard of an Americana record.
Fly Baby Fly PREMIERE w Amplify Music Magazine
“There is something about Americana singer-songwriter Angie Goeke’s music that is charming. Relatable… ‘Fly Baby Fly’… springs from that deep, inherent hope that all parents have for their kids: that they can reach for their dreams, and, ultimately, be happy. The sense of encouragement, of striving to reach something, is palpable in the song, making the listener want to go out and do big, exciting things.”
March 9, 2022
PREMIERE // ANGIE GOEKE soars on ‘Fly Baby Fly’ track + video + chat
Houston, TX-based Americana singer-songwriter Angie Goeke is set to her release her debut full-length, If I Were Honest, on April 29, 2022. In the meantime we have the premiere of the Fly baby Fly single and video. An independent release, the album was recorded in Nashville and produced by Mary Bragg.
There is something about Americana singer-songwriter Angie Goeke’s music that is charming. Relatable. Her forthcoming album, “If I Were Honest” (out April 29, 2022) is comfortable and easy, yet with a lyrical depth — and the emotion that comes with it — that emerges from life lived and experiences accrued under one’s belt. And a song like her new single, “Fly Baby Fly” (out March 11, 2022), springs from that deep, inherent hope that all parents have for their kids: that they can reach for their dreams, and, ultimately, be happy. The sense of encouragement, of striving to reach something, is palpable in the song, making the listener want to go out and do big, exciting things.
The accompanying music video, hand-drawn and animated by one of Goeke’s seventh-grade art students, is utterly delightful, a visual embrace of the song’s message. The poignancy of a child realizing a dream in the creation of this music video is not lost on the viewer, and one can’t help but smile when watching the video’s storyline unfold. It’s a feel-good listen-and-watch.
Amplify is pleased to premiere the song and video here today, and we sat down recently with Goeke to talk about all of it in advance of the single’s release.
Please tell us about this song. What inspired you to write it and how did it come together?
The song formed as Shane Stevens and I chatted over Zoom during the beginning of the pandemic. We talked about life and all the craziness of the world at that time, such as my four kids all trying to do school from home and the impact we were all feeling. When we were trying to nail down a topic for a song, we came back around to my kids. We talked about the song, “Humble and Kind” by Lori McKenna and how we wanted a similar mother-to-child kind of message. We talked about the idea of starting each line as a question and the power that could have, because parents rarely know what they are doing! Then the wheels started turning.
What was it like recording this song?
Magic. As soon as Ben Garnett laid down that opening line, something special happened. All of a sudden, what was a little song on my uke became reminiscent of “Blackbird.” Previous to that, I struggled to feel comfortable singing the song and where to place it in my voice. But all of a sudden, it became this lilting lullaby/prayer over my kids that felt so peaceful.
What message do you hope this song conveys to listeners?
While the song was originally written for my children, it has become a song of encouragement to me. Believing that someone else is telling me to take some risks, pursue what I love, to just go for it — that has been meaningful to me, and I hope everyone who listens can apply the same message to their lives. You are worth the investment, the time, the risk to pursue that which makes you happy, that which makes you wanna fly.
This song is also a message to your children. Have they heard the song? If so, what do they think of it?
Yes, they’ve heard it; they’ve heard every version that has been played live and has come back from mixing and mastering, actually. While they don’t express that it’s meaningful, I think somewhere inside of them a seed is being planted. Because they are kids, I mainly hear, “Ugh, do we have to listen to it again?” (But then I catch them singing along).
Who put the video together? How did you come to work with that person?
The video was hand-drawn by Isabella Alcozer. She is one of my seventh-grade art students. She was showing me a video she made last school year to a popular song. I was so impressed by her drawings and the amount of time and persistence that such a video required. It didn’t take long for me to realize that hiring her to make a video for this song would be powerful. She is such a talented artist, I wanted her to experience that her talent is valued! I wanted her to get the opportunity as a middle schooler to have a wide audience see her work and applaud her for it. I hope that it inspires her to strive for any and all future goals that she has, which is exactly what I hope everyone hears in “Fly Baby Fly.”
Whose idea was the video treatment? What story did you hope to tell with the video?
I handed the project fully over to Isa, and she created the storyline. She did all the drawings in several layers of shading and animation. I love that she focused on the “dance like no one’s watching” line. Being a singer, I would have focused on “sing, baby, sing.” Her creative choices show the relationship between mother and child in such a way I could not have done on my own. I am grateful that we went with it!
Any great stories to share from the creation of the video?
Isa worked independently for all of this project. She would send me layers as they were completed. The best story is probably yet to come, when I have the rest of the art students see her amazing video. She is so humble and quiet! I can’t wait for them to be inspired by her, a fellow peer who was hired to make a music video!
Whiskey in a Teacup VIDEO PREMIERE
“… an empowering anthem… Goeke’s way of speaking to strong introverted women everywhere. The swaggering Americana-rocker tune finds Goeke showcasing her honky tonk vocals with a tough edge as she uses a Southern analogy of keeping your strength behind a classy image. Bold organ and sharp guitar work give the song a little more of a rock and roller vibe while keeping the lively vocals and lyrics front and center.”Glide Magazine
VIDEO PREMIERE: Angie Goeke Sips on Inner Strength with Rollicking Americana-rocker “Whiskey In a Teacup”
Song Premiere With Interview: Angie Goeke “So I Pray”
Angie Goeke — “So I Pray”
Americana Highways is hosting this premiere of Angie Goeke’s song “So I Pray,” from her forthcoming album If I Were Honest, due to be available April 29. The single will be released on January 14.
If I Were Honest was produced by Mary Bragg; engineered by Rachael Moore; and mixed and mastered by Eric Fritsch. The song was recorded at Sound Emporium Studios in Nashville.
“So I Pray” is Angie Goeke on vocals; Ben Garnett on guitar; Ben Plotnick on violin and viola; and Kaitlyn Raitz on cello.
We chatted with Angie about the song. The song appears just beneath the interview.
Americana Highways: What inspired you to write this song? What is the story behind it? What is it about?
Angie Goeke: This song was written in the midst of tons of counseling sessions and deep talks. Waking up each morning, knowing I’d have to trudge through more difficult conversations and memories, became unbearable. I felt so overwhelmed by emotion, yet equally numb to it all. I just didn’t want to continue any of it anymore. For me, my only hope was praying. And even in those prayers, I allowed myself to be honest about feeling unheard and at the end of my rope. It was a defining moment for me, knowing that I was not only being called to a deeper level of honesty with myself, my counselor, and my relationships, but also with God. I think no matter what or who we believe in, if we can’t be honest in our prayers, then what truly is the point?
AH: What was the recording session like for this song? Any stories in particular about recording this song?
AG: This song was initially supposed to appear on my first EP. It was uptempo and had bluegrass vibes. But Mary Bragg suggested slowing it down. I remember recording the first pass of scratch vocals over Ben Garnett’s light picking. A calm settled over me. It felt so right. When I went back into the studio booth for the final vocals later that week, it was late at night. The strings just took me back to that season of life in which the song was written. I felt all the emotions of both desperation and hope at once. In that late night vocal booth, the world disappeared and it felt like magic.
AH: Did the song turn out differently than you expected it to?
AG: Mary Bragg and I had talked ahead of time about slowing it down, so I wasn’t surprised to hear it in the new tempo. Honestly, I don’t know that I had any expectations for it. I knew it was in the capable hands of Mary and the musicians. If anything, I feel as though it turned out exactly like it was meant to be. I am so happy with it.
AH: What do you hope listeners hear in its music and lyrics?
AG: I hope that listeners are able to identify with the feelings of hopelessness and know they aren’t the only ones who struggle. Maybe this song will help them connect with emotions they have trouble expressing. Life can be so heavy, even more so when we try and carry it alone or keep the weight bottled up inside. I hope it is cathartic and healing for them. I want listeners to find reassurance in the fact that even without answers, we can make it out alive because we aren’t alone. We can lean on others, or our faith, or maybe even on a song.
AH: This song is from your forthcoming album. What made you want to release this song into the world before the album comes out?
AG: “So I Pray” is the oldest song on the record and central to why I write songs. It was written during a very transformative time in my life and without this song and the personal growth that came during its creation, I’m not sure I would have ever pursued my dream to write and record. It made sense to just take the plunge by releasing the most vulnerable song first. Kind of a “Here I am, world!” greeting after years of timidly approaching my musical path.
Angie Goeke has written songs of a high vibration with Mary Bragg in the producer’s seat to craft them. This one flows like a gentle spring rain.
Pre-save link: https://distrokid.com/hyperfollow/angiegoeke/so-i-pray