Max Gomez

Max Gomez
The Belmont
Austin, Texas

Songwriter-singer-guitarist Max Gomez’s 2013 debut Rule the World enveloped the surroundings of The Belmont, a small venue that features an outdoor concert area likened to a private courtyard. Standing in a plaid shirt with a simple white tee underneath, denim jeans, and boots, his simple style matched his unadorned musical backing filled with lyrical themes of self-discovery, heartbreak, and life’s travails.

A high point was “Ball and Chain,” a lonesome folk-blues that hearkens to his inspirations Big Bill Broonzy (“Key To the Highway,” “Get Back”) and folk troubadour John Prine (“Sam Stone,” “Hello in There”). He sang the words “I know someday I’ll be free” as if he experienced spiritual imprisonment without any flashiness. His mix of Americana, coated with crooner “ooh” flourishes and Johnny Cash-Bob Dylan subdued vocals, coursed through the rest of the numbers, from the uniform strummer “Run from You” to the elegiac bildungsroman “Cherry Red Wine” (“throw my ashes out to sea…a chance of feeling free”). The poetic “Rule the World” (“Give a run for your worth/And play the cards at hand/Fight the troubles at birth/And know where you stand”) evoked medieval imagery set to the tune of affection and adoration.

Standing alone, guitar in hand, with no gimmicks, Max Gomez channeled intimacies and storytelling with ease and integrity, fitting perfectly with the vintage surroundings and outdoor stage. His vocals, penmanship, and soft-spoken sounds remained relatable, signaling the idea that he might just be one of the next performers to rule the roost of roots music.

by Jeff Boyce