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We live in a society where we have forsaken the virtues of simple living; we consume too much, we like spend too many hours in front of screens, and it seems that, collectively, we have accepted technology as a sort of higher power. This attitude has seeped into every nook and cranny of our culture, from television to books, and, most importantly, the sort of music that gains recognition. The possibilities of what you can do to a track with a computer program are endless. Of course, there are countless musicians with genuine talent who are able to utilize loops and sampling, but by the same token, there are numerous bands employing these technological feats in order to disguise vapid music with ornate bells and whistles, distracting from the lack of substance. That is why it was so refreshing to welcome Max Gomez into the WERS studio.
Unassuming and soft spoken, the singer-songwriter brought only an acoustic guitar with him for his performance on the Coffeehouse, exuding a quiet sweetness as he perched on the stool, strumming away. It’s not so much of a departure for Gomez to come unplugged; although his full-length album typically features more instrumental backing, his unplugged performance at WERS was natural and organic sounding; his songs are suited to being acoustic just as well as they are to be fully mastered in a studio.
The first song Gomez played was “Rule the World,” the title track of his full-length album. With just his guitar, it was a performance where Gomez’s lyrical ability in the song took center stage. There was a surprising and lovely falsetto from Gomez on the repeated line, “What if I could rule the world?” He answers his own question himself in the lyrics: “I’d drown out the cries with redemption songs/I’d part the truth from the lies/And the rights from the wrongs,” Gomez sang, the track telling the story of what one could do for the person they loved.
Following that, Gomez chose “What It Means,” but prefaced the song with a quick explanation, saying how it was a song that was more like a story. Gomez said it’s “a song that’s partly written about being from a small town– I’m from a little town in northern New Mexico, Taos,” and also added, “it’s sort of one of the few honest songs I’ve written, it’s just a little story.”
It did have much more of a storytelling feel: the lyrics about the idea of escaping a small town to the big city (“I can go anywhere baby that the wind can blow,”), dealing with the ideas of wanderlust and love, which, when presented in Gomez’s vocal and clean guitar strumming, come together to create a truly understatedly beautiful track.
To close his set on the Coffeehouse, Gomez played the wistful “Run From You,” a song that he just released a music video for back in April. It’s a track that’s also brimming with his trademark beautiful imagery in the lyrics as he sings, “That’s where I ran into you,/White blossoms and raven hair,/Got a funny feeling,/And a dead man’s stare,” a song that cements the idea that Gomez’s ability as a storyteller is just as impressive as his ability as a performer.
He’s not typical folk, or country—Gomez prefers to instead refer to himself as singer-songwriter. His unique talent has been getting him a lot of attention lately, including a tour with Patti Smith, and it’s undoubtedly due to his refreshingly genuine performances and writing. WERS was lucky to welcome him into our studio for his unplugged set, and if you are interested in finding out more information or listening to his studio recordings, head to his website.