Album Review of
While We Were Gone: Live at Soapbox Gallery

Written by Joe Ross
December 4, 2021 - 10:26pm EST
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Over the course of a five-month period, Paul Jost and his musical companions taped a monthly gig at an an art and performance space in Brooklyn, N.Y. called Soapbox Gallery. As Jost sings, scats and adds occasional harmonica riffs, he’s ably accompanied by Jim Ridl (piano), Tim Horner (drums) and Dean Johnson, Lorin Cohen or Martin Wind (bass). Jost’s fifth album soon materialized as a double-disc with 23 tracks from live performance.

Jost’s evocative vocal presentation is all about melodies, lyrics, harmonics and time. He reinvents standards like “Bye Bye Blackbird,” “Ev’rybody’s Talkin’”and “On the Sunny Side of the Street” in ways that few have heard them done.  He covers two of Randy Newman’s songs, “Feels Like Home” and “Marie,” with an adventurous spirit and displaying lyrical subtlety. The crowds may not have been big, but on a number like “My Foolish Heart” we hear at least a few audience members really digging the proceedings.   

Jost is able to capture beautiful melancholic moments with thoughtful, delicate expression in renditions of songs like “Lover Man” and “The Nearness of You.” Other crowning periods on this album are when Jost’s own self-penned spoken words and compositions (e.g. “An Appeal for Reason,” “Lies of Convenience,” and “If I Ruled the World”) address social injustices and political issues. While We Were Gone is intimate, moving music that is transcendent, memorable and makes a statement. (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)