Two of the country's most popular gay singer-songwriters, Matt Alber and Tom Goss, boast current releases that are wonderfully appropriate for Valentine's Day.
Both Midwest natives, Alber and Goss seem to have cornered the market on providing dreamy and sentimental music tuned to gay sensibilities - Goss with his 2009 album Back To Love and Alber's with the 2008 work Hide Nothing.
Each release features tracks that portray several types of love - not just the gauzy, romantic love that we tend to think about this time of year, but the many disparate situations in which love plays a part. Consider Goss' "Till the End,"which tells of a relationship perhaps reaching a rocky point and a lover's commitment that he is indeed "here till the end."
Or Alber's hit "End of the World" (the retro-styled video of which has attracted much attention for him), a song that addresses the difficulties in keeping a relationship together once it's clear that it may well have reached an end.
During a recent interview, Goss spoke of his inspiration behind another track on Back to Love, the dreamy and sentimental "Back to Arkansas," which tells of a vague yearning for romance while being away from a loved one.
"It's a very strange song for me, because I was just messing around with the music- I'm not really sure where it came from." Here, Goss refers to the fact that he's never actually been to Arkansas, but that "If your lover was in Arkansas, the idea of Arkansas would be very romantic... I know what it means to be away from your partner."
For Goss, "Back to Arkansas" speaks to the issues of "What does it mean to be in love... to think about a place romantically" He adds that "It's one of the most poetic songs I've ever written," and the lyrics to the song's middle verse certainly confirm that:
Once there, the memories
Of coffee cups and knotted trees.
I left you stumbling for gentle words,
You left me tumbling down through this world.
Matt Alber - End of the World (Official Music Video)youtu.be
Goss also told of his songwriting process: "Songwriting to me is so fluid - it just kind of comes out in one fluid moment... It's very freeform. It really allows me to be uninhibited."
Supporting the sentimental nature of Goss' lyrics is the dreamy folk-type music that accompanies them. Goss primarily plays acoustic guitar on his tracks, and sings with a loose and gravelly, yet strong and assured tenor.
Matt Alber's music also mines a vein of dreamy sentimentality, but in an almost completely vocally focused way. This is not surprising, considering that the Wichita native has sung in dozens of choruses over the decades, most prominently in the acclaimed San Francisco a capella group Chanticleer, with which he garnered two Grammy Awards.
His 2008 album, Hide Nothing shows off Alber's vocal mastery well, particularly in "The Slow Club," an invitation to pursuing a slow romance. Waves of synthesizer weave through the track, providing the perfect backdrop for Alber's knowing lyrics:
Tom Goss - Irreplaceableyoutu.be
But what makes me a better man
can hardly be determined in bed
so what would happen instead
if we just meet at the slow club?
Both Alber and Goss have received a good share of publicity, at least among gay audiences, for several years now. But other gay singer-songwriters who come to mind include former Apprentice contestant Levi Kreis, as well as Eric Himan, with whom Goss has toured. And, of course, there's the doyenne of romantic lesbian music, k.d. lang, especially her 1992 release "Ingenue."
All of this music would serve a romantic Valentine's evening quite well, so for more information on Alber and Goss, or to download their music, visit their websites, mattalber.com and tomgossmusic.net.