Ross Goldstein's 'Inverted Jenny' Paints Pictures Through Sound

By Stefani Reynolds

As a photographer, visual artist, and musician, Ross Goldstein is a multi-talented creator. Ten years after the release of his first solo album Trail Songs, he has returned with new music on his second solo album Inverted Jenny, where he paints complex pictures of wandering through the American landscape.

An immersive album, Goldstein’s psychedelic vibe combines with the ambient sounds of nature to transport you away from your everyday troubles into a state of relaxation that’s easy to get lost in.

Opening with a simple, somber melody and an echoing combination of strong guitar and vocals, "Silent Meow" sets the stage for what you can expect from the rest of the album: airy vocals, soft guitar, and fascinating ambient sound.

Green State follows with a calming, melodic sound that paints a beautiful picture of drifting through idyllic landscapes. While the vibe is quiet and lonesome, there is absolutely nothing unpleasant about it. The easygoing guitar and beautifully soft vocals allow your mind to drift through the inspiring images it creates as the track continues to play.

The album keeps the forward momentum and upbeat nature of "Green State" with "California", which is probably the busiest song you’ll find on the album, next to "Chessie". Twinkling piano melodies, lively guitar chords, and captivating ambient sounds fill every possible inch of your ears, making this one of the most carefree songs on the album. Goldstein’s hauntingly beautiful vocals seduce you with visions of the West, and all of the adventures awaiting you there.

In tracks like "Disco Donut", Goldstein’s work as a visual artist truly begins to shine through, for he lessens his reliance on vocabulary and instead tells his story solely through instruments. With a techno beat and a pleasantly rhythmic vibe, Goldstein doesn't need words to hold your attention; he does so with strong baselines meshed with a lively drumbeat and intricate melodies from the piano and guitar.

He follows a similar theme in "Stone Skipper", which is an incredibly minimalistic piece with very little audible vocals. The combination of soft guitar and echoing keyboards creates an immersive environment that is both peaceful and fascinating. It is held down by a simple, yet bold baseline; one that doesn’t disrupt the peace, but keeps the track from floating off.

"The Minotaur" is an abrupt cut in the album, with its rumbling baseline and angelic, yet haunting piano. Marking the point where the album takes a dark and somber turn, most of Inverted Jenny from here on out follows this similar theme. With no real audible lyrics, the soundbites of voices cut through the baseline in an almost disturbing manner.

This somber feel continues in "Upstate Blues", where Goldstein’s vocals take center stage in front of an incredibly quiet, simple melody comprised of piano and synths, that eventually comes to an end with nothing but rain. This ambient noise continues with "Sandhills" and Curtains, two tracks in which Goldstein chooses to cut back on vocals and tell his story through sounds alone.

Goldstein ends the album on an upbeat, positive note with the strong, endearing horns of "Pocket Camera". A song that perfectly embodies the entire album, there is an impeccable balance of vocal and instrumental sections, with a complex variety of lighthearted melodies and heavy, somber baselines. Because of this, it serves as a perfect ending to the journey that Inverted Jenny takes its listeners on.

While Goldstein may lay low in Upstate New York as he writes his music and creates art, he knows how to make a bold statement. He does just that in every track on Inverted Jenny, taking risks in the presentation of his story and the combination of sounds he chooses to use. Goldstein, in these consistently bold, yet soft-spoken choices, creates an album full of tracks that are undeniably unique, yet fit together perfectly to form a dream world all his own.

Score: 7/10

Tracks To Listen To: "Green State", "California", "Pocket Camera"

Inverted Jenny comes out on 8/11 on Northern Spy Records. You can keep up with Goldstein on his Facebook