Growing Old With Rock and Roll

Growing Old With Rock and Roll

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Josh Birdsong - Where the Light Bends (2017)

Written by Jason Hillenburg, posted by blog admin

Josh Birdsong’s debut EP Simple Geometry established this young singer/songwriter and musician as one of the most promising talents working today, but his new EP release Where the Light Bends primes him to be propelled to entirely new level. The six song collection from this Nashville by way of Detroit transplant relies on an assemblage of electronically treated guitar work meshing with emotive singing and first class lyrical content to excellent effect. Birdsong recorded this latest release in Nashville with producer Stephen Leiweke, renowned for his work with Ingrid Michaelson and band Jars of Clay, and amply demonstrates why Birdsong has garnered consistent airplay on over a hundred radio stations nationwide while also receiving numerous awards for the excellence of his presentation and material. Birdsong has found a definite method for transmuting the personal into the universal and few, if any, listeners will finish this EP without feeling affected by his talents.

The electronic effects applied to Birdsong’s stellar guitar work further accentuate its excellence. There seems to be an array of guitar lines weaving through the introduction to the EP’s opener “Complex Context” and the production imbues it with immediacy capable of immediately seizing your attention. Birdsong’s voice emerges from the mix as an equal to the other instruments while still maintaining its position as the center of the song. The slightly upbeat tempo never threatens it runaway with itself and, instead, gives the song welcome physicality assured to help the song linger in listener’s memories. The EP’s second track “The Sound Beneath the Static” has a much more spartan sound and the guitar work has a tightened focus when compared to the first track. The arrangement nicely climbs higher with the chorus, but there’s a careful restraint to this performance that exhibits a more considered point of view than we heard with the EP opener.

The cleverly titled “Cloud 8” has a much more ethereal, airy thrust than the first two tracks and a little more post-production effects applied to Birdsong’s vocals. Birdsong exhibits a wont for cloaking everything with a certain amount of echo and it underscores the atmospheric tenor he aspires to on this release. The patient approach continues with the song “Too Much To Hold” and gives listeners another taste of Birdsong’s masterful talent for orchestrating these songs in such a way that their dynamics draw listeners in without ever coming off as too heavy handed. His vocals on this song are attentive and ranks among his finest vocal turns yet. Birdsong revisits some of the urgency that defined the opener with the penultimate number “Arctic Desert”, but with a more diffuse quality than we heard with the first song. The nuanced percussion is key in differentiating between the two approaches and one can definitely hear this performance as a sort of mix of the grounded approach heard on various tunes with his more thoughtful inclinations. Birdsong’s title track is the fullest realization of his point of view on the EP and exhibits tremendous range despite artfully reining itself in. The airy electronic textures juxtaposed against Birdsong’s guitar is, as usual, critical to the song’s success and ties the EP’s various strands into an unified whole. Where the Light Bends is a more than worthy follow up to Simple Geometry and sets the stage for Birdsong’s future.   

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