Gosh, yet another lockdown album, it’s getting that our end of year awards might have to include this as a new category. If so, Josh King would certainly be in the running as this short but engaging album certainly lifts the spirits. Recorded in his run down shed in Greensboro as touring was cancelled, King takes full advantage of virtual social distancing as he draws on a wealth of pals to contribute via email files, with the result sounding as accomplished as any true studio album.
King tops and tails the album with snippets from an old cassette he found of his grandfather singing an unknown song, a ploy which allows him to say, “I tried to include artists on this album that have influenced and inspired me throughout the years. My grandfather was the first.” Given that there is a mini multitude of class acts appearing here (including members of his old band, House Of Fools), we’ll not list them but together they encompass Neil Young like country rock, Beach Boys harmonies and Petty like power pop.
‘Man On The Television’ has that Neil Young Harvest like country thump although it’s handled quite delicately here. Covid related in its initial apocalyptic verses, it eventually turns into an almost jolly front porch sing-along. ‘On My Own’ then crashes in with portentous guitars before King’s light voice guides us through a primer on the importance of friends. ‘Doing Time’ almost tip toes into view by comparison with its swooning pedal steel and harmonies gilding its optimistic message, “Soon there will be brighter days,” while ‘Give Up On Love’ is a perfect example of how a troupe of musicians, separated by many miles, can still coagulate into a perfect unit as the song is stuffed full of excellent guitar and piano solos while King comes across as if he had inhaled all the souls of The Travelling Wilburys. It’s quite magnificent.
As King says, “This record ended up being my therapy, helping me reconnect with old friends (extra-socially distanced!) and focus my energy in a more positive direction. I hope these songs can help listeners find some comfort in these crazy times as well.” We’ll second that.