Several weeks ago local acoustic singer/songwriter Josh Kemp packed out the city’s own Bodega for the release of his new EP, Chatterbox. A little while before that, we reviewed the lead single off the record, Stupid Cupid, which you can watch below, and check out our review for here. In addition to this wonder, the six track offering sees Nottingham’s boy serve up three more original works, plus piano versions of a pair of them. Since his previous EP, Sofa Surfin’ (which we reviewed over a year ago here), Josh has progressed in leaps and bounds, making his current release unrivaled.
Opening with the title track of the EP, a straightforward one-man-and-his-guitar intro builds up through layers and depth to a fuller sound. Electric moments add extra power, the track not hindered in the slightest by the common fragility so many singer/songwriters become lumbered with. Chatterbox glides past any flaws another artist may fall into, the home-grown romanticism starting a spark that burns through the rest of the songs. Vocals only a touch above gravelly make the verses of Four Letters so unique, encompassing the strength needed to force the choruses forward.
Playing again on the depths that the opening track thrived off of, A Swan Song winds in handful of regular cliches anyone’s thrown at the scene of a break up with a realistic touch to emancipate the listener. Though the instrumental build up that marks the middle eight seems somewhat incongruous, the pieces slide together perfectly for a simplistic close. Lyrically, Stupid Cupid still proves to be the strongest off the record, just shy of the four minute mark and blending in Counting Crows-esque undertones.
The closing two tracks off the record come in the form of piano editions of Four Letters and Stupid Cupid – bonus tracks that add something to the release. Whilst in many ways these are simpler for their stripped back sound, there’s a distinct switch in power as the vocals have total dominance over the music.
Josh Kemp is a local treasure, and whilst I’m sure all of Nottingham would agree that we’d like to keep him to ourselves, his work is deserving of so much more. Romantically tinged work adds an honest and personal side to the release, with his heart-on-my-sleeve attitude an instantly captivating one.