Josh Harty Nowhere
I reckon this’ll be the third album for Wisconsin native Josh Harty. Coming from an intensely musical background, he seems to have been playing and performing most of his 30-odd years and his fluency on the acoustic guitar is testament to all those years of playing. As a songwriter, I would say he’s striving to be as honest, as true to an emotion, as he can possibly get, and I guess he has a perfectionist streak that prevents him being more prolific.
There’s just six original songs here and the tone is set at the off with Whiskey and Morphine; the strummed guitar, the sonorous bass and the slightly anguished tone of the fiddle provide an appropriate back ground to the bruised yet noble warmth of Josh’s voice. It’s a wonderful voice, compared in the past to Gordon Lightfoots’, and the really attractive thing is that there is plenty of colour in there, as if can convey all the compexities of an emotion in a single phrase. He can sound regretful whilst simultaneously hinting at hope around the corner.
The downbeat tone is maintained across the six songs but is leavened by a sweet lyricism that harks back to – well, Gordon Lightfoot and James Taylor, to name two. It’s as if he wishes to convey the seriousness of life and the beauty of life, in equal measure. A muted drum pulse, emotion-laden bass playing and wonderfully sensitive fiddle and mandolin playing from Trevor Krieger are a great match to the rich sound Josh conjures from his guitar and there is a dignity to this music making that leaves us feeling enriched for the experience.
The album closes with a cover of Richard Thompson’s 1952 Vincent Black Lightning, performed live and solo. It’s a good chance to show off his guitar technique as his fingers pick an urgent pulse and his boot taps insistently on the stage. The warmth of his singing, however, misses out on the emotional madness that Richard Thompson’s own version invokes and, for me, that’s a crucial element of the song lost. Still, it’s good to hear the song in a fresh context and besides, I think Josh Harty’s singing of his own songs will have me coming back to this album.
FSR Interview with Josh Click Here