For many years, Nashville-based poet, singer and songwriter Kevin Gordon has enjoyed the dubious accolade of “critic’s darling.” His past albums have received almost universal praise and his songs have been covered by an all-star line-up of roots-influenced musicians that includes Keith Richards, Levon Helm, Ronnie Hawkins and Todd Snider. But with last week’s release of his new album, Long Gone Time, success in wider and more lucrative circles may be on the way.
“It's been a pretty intense week,” Gordon says, fresh from a string of live appearances in Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York. “The response has been really good so far. There's been a lot of enthusiasm for the record.”
One of those stops included a taping of the NPR radio show World Café that will be airing in early October. “I’ve listened to that show for years,” Gordon says, “so it's pretty surreal to find myself as the guest.”
As with his acclaimed 2012 release, Gloryland, the songs of Long Gone Time are finely focused Southern portraits that illuminate the ghosts of the past and give hope for the future. Whether it’s the “can’t go home again” acceptance found in “Walking on the Levee,” the spectre of abhorrent racial beliefs and the fear they engender in “Shotgun Behind the Door,” or an almost mystical chance encounter with a legendary cowboy singer in “Goodnight Brownie Ford,” Gordon builds his songs on a foundation of reality mingled with the mystic.
“A lot of the songs are about where I grew up in Louisiana and stories from that time and place,” Gordon says. “What I've written has pretty much been based on or inspired by real experiences. Truth turns out to be stranger than fiction and more interesting.”
Gordon will be showcasing the album for hometown fans at the City Winery on Monday, Sept. 14 at 8 p.m., with fellow Nashville favorite Sarah Potenza opening. Several special guests, including Kate Campbell, Webb Wilder and Jon Byrd will be appearing with Gordon.
“I like finding different ways to present songs,” Gordon says. “When I was riding back from Philadelphia the other day, I started thinking about the song ‘Following a Sign (Preacher’s Wife)’ and how it could be a Kate Campbell song. She's a dear friend who I don't see much anymore because we're both so busy. But I just emailed her, asked what she was doing Monday and if she would be interested in singing.” It’s the kind of spur-of-the-moment help from friends that’s just one of the benefits of Nashville’s music community.
“It’s great to be part of this community,” he says. “We're really supportive of each other and it quite often makes for better music.”