The direction of this album is almost certified in the opening 10 seconds of this record from Josiah. Soft, acoustic instrumentation led by a twinkly piano melody, you can almost sense that many of the tracks will follow a similar sound. But Josiah does surprise you with other ideas and influences, although the majority of this album stays in the folk style. The bluesy, upbeat second number Can You Hear It certainly adds an element of diversity to the record, especially in comparison to the opening track. The track also shows some Bob Dylan influence with the great use of harmonica throughout the track, executed slightly better than the shorter track Cold California.
It’s not the only time Bob Dylan comes to mind on the album, as Josiah’s vocal style is at times reminiscent of Dylan, but this works in his favour; it doesn’t feel like he is completely worshiping or ripping off his style, but the influence is there. This doesn’t exactly give him the most unique sound, but perhaps in 2015 this can be considered unique, and I can appreciate the revivalism, much like the debut soul album from Leon Bridges which came out earlier this year, Coming Home.
Tracks like Please really channel the Bringing It All Back Home sound and era of Dylan, and these are the tracks that sound the best for Josiah, he does sound good when he slows things down like on the song Don’t Look Back, but perhaps the lyrics didn’t fit the vibe. There isn’t always that heartfelt raw emotion there like you would find on a Tallest Man On Earth song, which I can definitely also compare his style and sound to.
The tracks are at times quite cleanly produced, so the vocals are brought to the front of the mix and this doesn’t give Josiah the raw emotion that would’ve been apparent if the tracks were a little rougher. The first single Long Gone for instance, here singing about a love interest whom he goes to find at the home but then a person answers and says they’re long gone now, is a nice track but essentially feels like a cleaned up version of a Bon Iver song, especially towards the latter half.
With that said the tracks are all well produced (all-but-one by Josiah), but I think for Josiah’s style they could be a bit more upbeat and faster and it would improve the songs. This isn’t to say him slowing down and doing a folk song is bad, but I’d like to hear more of his blues influence come into future songs, as he has potential.
The track Swing (fairly reminiscent of the track Timothy from The Tallest Man On Earth’s latest album) was produced by Dave Way, who has worked with Fiona Apple and Paul McCartney, and this track benefits from extra instrumentation and gives it more texture, so maybe Josiah could use this style a bit more, as it does add variety to the album. Josiah could reach a wider audience in the near future, especially since we already have someone like Jake Bugg (which still baffles me how he got popular) and it’s exciting to see where he’ll go next after hearing this pretty solid album.
You can listen to Can You Hear It below.