For a couple of years, some of my friends and I have been sharing music with one another. We’re supposed to review/rate whatever’s shared with us, but that doesn’t always happen.
Josh Smith – Over Your Head (2015)
Spencer shared some more blues rock, which I’m okay with. I don’t really know much about this kid except that he started playing professionally when he was 13 (although he’s almost 40 now)(so I assume that if that’s him on the cover, it’s an old picture)(but maybe I’m totally off and that’s a girl on the cover) and each track off this album is (apparently) a single full take of three guys (plus occasional guests) in one room.
The opening track was a bit heavier than I expected. Heavier than Robben Ford, anyway. I really liked the groove of When I Get Mine, but it was just a blues rock tune and by that time in the album I was ready for something a little different. Gratefully Still Searching gave me something a little jazzier.
First Hand Look (at Down and Out) brought the hardness back, and the groove and guitar licks were great. The vocals were just okay. On that note, …And What, which just focused on the instrumentality of the musicians, was one of the better tunes. Parts of it sounded like something I feel I should recognize … Jim Croce’s You Don’t Mess Around with Jim, perhaps?
But the real highlight of the album was Smoke and Mirrors. It really felt like a Jimi Hendrix tribute. It had a great groove. I think it needed a little more psychedelia, but it was pretty sweet. It was the only tune that, as soon as it was over, I wanted to listen to again.
The only songs I didn’t really like was Better Off. It kind of just killed the energy of the album. I didn’t like the smooth jazz style or vocals. And it was way longer than I think it needed to be.
Like Robben Ford’s album, I think this album is best mixed in with other stuff – but I don’t know that I would want a playlist of just this and Robben Ford. I would want a variety of different things. And I had no idea it would work out this way, but this album gets the same score as Robben Ford’s (but I think I’d listen to this one before that other): 3.36/5
Needtobreathe – The Reckoning (2011)
My wife introduced them to me earlier this year, and while I don’t love all their stuff, this record is really good. My favorite tracks are A Place Only You Can Go and Angel at My Door. I don’t think there are any bad tracks. I don’t think there are any mind-blowingly awesome tracks either, but most of the album is average or above, including the relative lowlights.
Like some other bands that have been shared, these guys are Christian. While that may come across in their lyrics, I don’t feel like it’s the point of their music. They don’t come off as preachy to me.
Here’s what my friends thought:
“This album opened up really strong, then kinda lost me. It got a bit more folksey than I was expecting. The title track brought it back. I like the vocal style and a lot of the instrumentation. They do a nice job of going sparse and having vocals carry through. I wish I had time to go through it a second time, but you’ve intrigued me enough to listen some more.” 4.1/5 – Spencer
Share your own thoughts on Josh Smith or Needtobreathe in the comments below.