Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Josh Birdsong - Where the Light Bends (2017)

Written by William Elgin, posted by blog admin

Detroit native Josh Birdsong followed the clarion call of modern music and moved to Nashville, Tennessee, aka Music City USA, to further pursue his musical ambitions and the results are formidable. His first release, an EP entitled Simple Geometry, introduced modern listeners to  a singer/songwriter cut from a distinctly different cloth than what audiences are perhaps accustomed to and his second EP Where the Light Bends further ups the ante. The six song EP incorporates compelling electronically driven guitar textures with an often poetic vulnerability seldom heard in the music world today. He’s assisted by producer Stephen Leiweke in this endeavor and the duo, along with other collaborators, are successful in assembling one of 2017’s most involving releases. Where the Light Bends is a fantastic listening experience from first song to last and shows a satisfying range of sound and approach for a young songwriter who is clearly just getting started.

“Complex Context” is one of the EP’s more intelligent numbers and sets an impressively assertive tone once the song begins in earnest. There’s an assortment of guitar sounds Birdsong harnesses to spectacular effect. Leading off with this song proves to be an excellent move as the obvious physicality of the performance involves listeners in the EP with minimal effort. Birdsong offers up his best chorus on the EP with the second tune “The Sound Beneath the Static” and it’s, likewise, one of the more fully developed tracks on Where the Light Bends while paring back the cluttered but effective approach of the first number. The second song, as well, arguably features Birdsong’s finest vocal on Where the Light Bends. The songwriting takes a particularly satisfying turn with the third track “Cloud 8” and the depth of vulnerability reflected in both his vocal and lyric makes for another high point on the release. The steady pulse of “Too Much to Hold” is reminiscent of the first song and Birdsong does an exemplary job of coupling his sensitive vocal approach with a surprising assertiveness and gravitas. It’s one of the best vocals on Where the Light Bends and, despite its idiosyncratic sound, is quite an accessible song.

“Arctic Desert” is the EP’s second to last song and one of the best examples of Birdsong synthesizing his influences that you’ll hear on Where the Light Bends. Birdsong’s guitar work is one of the defining musical elements on the EP and this track highlights some of his best playing on Where the Light Bends. The title track ends the release on an uplifting note musically while Birdsong serves up possibly his most personal lyric on the release, yet it contains enough of a well rounded approach that it never seems too obscure. This is one of the year’s best releases, EP or full length album alike, and shows that Birdsong’s growth is proceeding at an exponential rate. There’s still time for newcomers to get in near the ground floor of Birdsong’s career because, from this point forward, his work will only continue growing in scope and emotional weight.

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