Gavin Castleton – It Was the Worst of Times, It Was the Worst of Times EP review

12 10 2014

It Was the Worst of Times, It Was the Worst of TimesPortland’s Gavin Castleton has released a new 5 song EP via his BandCamp page. The EP is a collection of songs about unconditional love and loss, but with a twist. If you’ve followed Gavin’s music over the years, you will know who he is singing about, and I won’t need to explain.

If the language of love is universal, then the same thing can be said about loss, it crosses borders and species and it always cuts deep.

Underestimate Me is a piano (and 1950’s sounding guitar) ballad that sets the scene – welcoming the subject of the EP, and the playfulness of youth and the promise of the future is echoed in the instrumentation during the middle section, before the final two lines hit home, signalling that this is an EP reflecting on memories tainted by loss.

“So I’ll just remember how you made me forget the world all around me
while the world still reminds me of you.”


Watering the Soil is a beautiful song, with the sounds of night-time crickets providing the rhythm to the saddest of sad songs.

“I put you in the ground tonight
out beside the house
by the window light”

Where is the Fire? is the darkest lyric on the EP, riddled with regret and wishing you could go back and re-live some of the better times.  I love the subtle reverb on Gavin’s vocals on this track.

Expensive Love is a much fuller arrangement than the live take in the video below, but the EP version makes it clear that this is simply one of the best songs Gavin has written.

Rhodes and a nagging beat drive the song, which has some wonderful Venus as A Boy recalling strings underpinning the later verses.

“But then you got much worse when I took the job –
I had to leave work late and get up at ungodly hours to get out of all the debts I owed.
Maybe you couldn’t see the man for the brand new clothes…”

If you have ever experienced deep loss – whether it was the loss of a parent, a relationship, or a close companion or friend, this song will surely resonate. There are no cliches in Expensive Love – no trite “I’m missing you” – the song serves up some of the raw truths of the cost of love, which can be paid in an emotional and a physical sense.

“I knew you had to go but didn’t know how much it’d cost me”

Image by Carrie Vonkiel

The EP ends on an uplifting song in Team Love – with it’s multi-layered vocals and hand-clap beats.

“I’ll be fixing up my inputs and my outputs
I will learn to love and be loved from any direction”

The change in mood at the end of the EP might suggest that if you are going through the worst of times now,  hang in there because you never know, the best of times could be just around the corner.

Gavin Castleton – It Was the Worst of Times, It Was the Worst of Timesbuy the EP on Bandcamp

Visit Gavin Castleton’s website.

If you’ve not heard Gavin’s music before, take a listen to his cover of Frank Ocean‘s Swim Good (mixed with the sublime Roads by Portishead).

I also recommend the Home (a zombie love story or is it?) and For the Love of Pete albums as good starting points in your journey. You will become hooked, trust me!



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