Josh Travis “Few of Days & Full of Trouble”

Independent, 2023

The title says it all on this fine full-length debut from Josh Travis.

Artwork for Josh Travis 'Few of Days & Full of Trouble'Gosh, it is a very crowded space that new singer-songwriters have to navigate to create some profile for themselves, and there seem to be dozens of performers who, with just a little bit of luck, might have some success. To make it more difficult in that context there are very few in recent times who were born and brought up in Pennsylvania (Taylor Swift of course being the shining exception).

So, a warm welcome to Josh Travis who hails from Erie, Pennsylvania and has remained there up to the point where his new, and rather good, debut album with an excellent title, ‘Few of Days & Full of Trouble’, was recorded at the Music Garden Studios in New Brighton, Pa. Travis released an EP six years ago and has been touring (and writing) for the intervening period until he had a portfolio of songs that he felt were good enough to fill an entire album. Using his touring band to showcase the songs, and as the core for the recording (and very good they are too), he enlisted the production (and musical) talents of Al Torrence and between them they enhanced the guitar-driven sound with fiddle, B3 and piano, and occasional horns. As for the album itself, it is a very fine collection of tracks, ranging from folk rock (‘Secondhand Smoke’), bluegrass (the title track), slow ballads (the beautiful ‘Change of Heart’), retro rock (‘Hot Week in August’), old style country (‘The Only Good in Me’) and a wonderful spaghetti western-style epic (‘Poor Johnny’).

Travis has honed his songwriting skills to fine effect and the songs have uniformly attractive tunes. They cover elements of his personal struggles while growing up but with seams of optimism sewn through them and a strong religious belief carrying him through. The overriding feeling is of a life laid out and the things you forgo to enjoy the life you have-“Cause I can’t say I’m born for better ‘Cause there’s no shame In my Father’s work I ain’t someone  Deserving of a something ‘Cause when I’m dead and gone They’ll put me in the dirt”, from the opener ‘Secondhand Smoke, a rather nice folk rocker with shades of The Eagles.

Poor Johnny’ is a song of desperation about a guy who makes wrong choices in trying to make the right decisions and it does not end well, with fabulous guitars from Sam Krahe on electric and Read Connelly on pedal steel (excellent throughout). In the melodic ‘Change of Heart’,  Travis sings about indecision: “Do I really love you Or do I just love what you give? ‘Cause every day I wake up looking for A good reason to live”.

‘Few of Days & Full of Trouble’ is very Desert Rose Band, with scintillating fiddle from Ray Buckman, and seems like a summation of the album’s essence: “Even waking up can be a struggle Try not to close your eyes And keep fighting the good fight This life is few of days and full of trouble”.  A special mention for ‘Opequon’, a rather wistful, heart-rending ballad, with its beautiful sketch of life, friendship and loss.

Josh Travis has an expressive voice put to good use in a variety of styles. The production is excellent, and the use of his touring band gives the album an energy that might have been missing with brought-in sidemen. This is a very good full-length debut and bodes well for Travis’ chances of making it, and you should seek it out.

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8/10
8/10

About FredArnold 60 Articles
Lifelong fan of predominantly US (and Canadian) country roots music. Previously an avid concert-goer before wives, kids and dogs got in the way- and although I still try to get to several, my preference for small independent venues often means standing, and that ain't too good for my ancient bones!! Still, a healthy and catholic music collection helps ease the pain
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