Justin Golden subconsciously learned to play the blues in a dream. Many years ago, he woke up with a finger picking style in his head, which he learned and further developed. later on he discovered it was a traditional style known as Piedmont blues, a style native to his home region of Virginia.
Connecting with the Virginia Folk life Program at Virginia Humanities, he was able to release his latest record, ‘Hard Times and A Woman’. Affected not only by the pandemic, the record also deals with Golden’s own personal heartbreak, job loss and cancelled tours. Ever resilient Golden made the best of the unexpected downtime not only to re-work the songs on the record, but to also teach local youth to play as well. All this, and he still managed to deliver a blues record that is steeped not only on the deep tradition of the blues, but folk and Americana.
Opening track ‘Can’t Get Right’ is a blues rocker that portrays the plight of a blue-collar worker trying to cope with the realities of life, love and work in a masculine environment. Continuing the theme of upheaval and enforced change on the melodic ‘When the Sun Goes Down’ details with separation from loved ones. Acoustic blues flavoured with gospel are the feature of ‘Oh Lord, Oh Lord’, while the acoustic shuffle based ‘No Riches’ is a testament to the strength of a loving relationship. A sentiment echoed in another semi-acoustic based track, ‘Call Me When the Bed Gets Cold’.
It wouldn’t be the blues without at least one hint of a deal the devil and that’s just what ‘Ain’t Just Luck’ implies. As a songwriter Golden isn’t afraid to tackle modern day issues and on ‘The Gator’, he uses a dark pounding beat to highlight and identify with the fears of modern day black people living in America.
‘Hard Times and a Woman’ proves that while the blues is the main influence behind Golden’s music, he’s quick to adapt and incorporate the sounds of rock and Americana into his compositions to take it beyond the genre. His song writing is exceptional, as he covers age old themes and unflinchingly tackles modern day issues with knowledge and depth.
An exceptional debut album from start to finish.