The son of an artisanal furniture craftsman, Gomez grew up watching his father, learning the tools of the trade while simultaneously learning his way around the frets of his guitar. The workmanlike quality of his songwriting carries over from his days spent in the woodshed through an economy of words, phrase and narrative. A blues enthusiast from an early age, the young Gomez immersed himself in the primordial Delta and traditional folk blues of Lead Belly, Big Bill Broonzy and, of course, Robert Johnson. Though 1,200 miles and decades removed from his Mississippi heroes, Gomez had his imagination to fill in the gaps. Having honed his chops on the blues, Max turned his interest to traditional American folk music; “I’m influenced by the old stuff,” Max admits. “To me, that’s the best music.” As the Harry Smith anthology gave way to contemporary masters Townes Van Zandt, Kris Kristofferson, Guy Clark and John Hiatt, so did Gomez’s songwriting. “The songs I write are not real straightforward. You have to decode them. I like when the listener has to create their own story, rather than be told what’s happening.” In short, storytelling that oscillates between everyman poetics and enigma.
While many young artists write songs with the mere intention of entertaining the masses, Max’s songs are filled with the raw emotion and capture the spirit of those who came before him. In an age of ever increasing false fronts and posturing, it’s rare to catch a glimpse of a soul bared. But that is exactly what Gomez has done.
“I want the band to mark a moment in time, to celebrate the being of something new;
The light at the end of the tunnel, the first step toward revealing something that needs to be seen,” says singer-songwriter Casey McPherson of Alpha Rev. Following the Triple A Radio success of New Morning (2010), the band’s third album Bloom (March 19, 2013 on Kirtland Records) is a set of personally transformative and redemptive songs, born in the spirit of creative expansion, and a mandate to blossom and grow. “To bloom implies something beautiful is going to happen, but it’s a process—just like our own journeys,” says McPherson.
“Casey and I met when we were really young, and have been playing music with each other off and on over the past 13 years,” explains guitarist Zak Loy. “That growth comes across in the music the group is creating now,” he says. Rooted in lyrical wisdom, the more recent addition of drummer Tabber Millard—trained by master percussionists—is credited for the band’s contemporary tribal rhythms. “Tabber means drummer boy in Arabic and his life revolves around this gift he has,” says McPherson. Newest Alpha Rev addition Jeff Bryant rounds out the band, playing pedal steel, piano, organ, and bass. With a glistening rock sound that is at once fragile and tough, Bloom picks up threads from the past while it takes a big bite into the eternal here and now. Drawing from the wellspring of American history, the grandeur of its landscape, and life’s sweet and tragic mysteries, McPherson leans into his personal challenges as well as the wages of the 21st Century and emerges with a triumphant statement on the ways in which music can serve as a constant source of strength and inspiration.