Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Josh Rosenthal - Renaissance

So today when I got home from a "hard" day a the office I found Josh Rosenthal's new cd in my mailbox. So of course I immediately came home, kicked off my shoes, put my shoes back on, walked the dog, came back inside, kicked my shoes off again, and placed Josh's new cd in my stereo.

I have been a fan of Josh's for a while now, mostly because I am into "friend-rock" which means that you listen to somebody because they are your friends not necessarily because they are good. Fortunately for me I have two friend who are very gifted song writers and musicians. One of them is Travis Lawrence (who goes by Stanton) and the other is Josh Rosenthal.

I guess to not seem to biased I will talk about my complaints first.

First of all there are only eight songs on this album which leaves you wanting more after the first listen. Josh has a habit of leaving people wanting more tracks...perhaps 8 secret songs after each of the "real" songs.

My second complaint is that the case gave me a paper cut when I opened it. It was vicious.

Now, since the there are only eight tracks I can discuss them individually.

1. "Don't Run Away" - This track has a slightly different feel for Rosenthal. It is more upbeat and drum driven. However Josh's song writing ability shines through in this song about sticking to your vow of love even through the rough times. I enjoy the message of this song because it does not make "love" some pretty and polished thing. It is something that takes a commitment to be there at all times. Rosenthal has a way of making you tap your foot, smile, nod your head, sing along, become nostalgic, cause self evaluation, make you slightly depressed, and leave you hopeful all in one track. Needless to say if you are bi-polar you might want to skip to track two.

2. "Bless The Fire" - This song originally appeared on Josh's "The Anatomy of Healing" EP. This reworked version shows what can happen when you poor a little extra time and instruments into a song. The original version of this song created a very intimate feel which made you feel at home. This version which includes backing vocals, additional lyrics, and more instrumentation. Makes you feel as though you are surrounded with other people that want to "start over again". This song felt weird on my first listen after first listening to the EP version. On the second listen I am sure that I like this version even more.

3. "Long Ride Home" - This is also a song which originally appeared on Josh's "Cordillera" album. This song does the opposite of "Bless The Fire". This version actually feels more intimate than the original which for this song is completely appropriate. I actually hit the skip button back on my first listen to hear it again. Needless to say I really like it.

4. "House On Highland" - The first time I heard this song it was called "Three-Thirty" and had an 80's synthesizer feel. In fact that was the only instrument on it at the time. Josh has since reworked the song twice with a more traditional instrument. This version is MUCH stronger than the "Anatomy of Healing" version. The backing vocal make a huge difference in making the song feel like a southern gospel song. Josh's vocals are also stronger on this track than any track I have heard him on. Much like like "Don't Run Away" this song showcases more of a rock sound.

5. "Something I Didn't Want" - This song is a little more inline with Josh's earlier songs. The song is filled with a complex guitar that somehow sounds simple and natural. The harmonica played by Raphael on this track is haunting (in a good way...like Casper). This song is one that can cause introspection, filled with well crafted lyrics about the desire to leave and stay in a place at the same time.

6. "Renaissance" - This Josh Wilson produced track is probably my favorite on the album. This is a wonderful song that is catchy yet retains Josh's artistic integrity. It is a song about grace, living in it, and using it to change the world. Which if any of you are U2 fans you already known that "grace was an idea that changed the world". This song also features backing vocals of Josh Wilson which fir perfectly into the song. Rosenthal and Wilson's voices complement each other very well. I really do not know how to describe this track, but I can say that the cost of the cd is worth this track alone.

7. "She Should Hear" - This is a stripped down song that is about wanting to speak you affection to your wife (of girlfriend possibly) but having a hard time actually speaking the words. The piano and light drums in the background create an intimate feel. It seems as though josh is in the next room playing the song as your own personal house entertainment. In fact if I am not able to hire Patty Griffin to just stay at my house and play music in the background for me then Josh is my next choice. This song reminds me of "Cordillera" (the track not necessarily the album). In addition the line about being in Costa Rica wants me to go on vacation.

8. "Gotta Get Out" - Finally a song about Lubbock...that is not about Lubbock in the rear view mirror...ok this is exactly what this song is about. This song has a sound that is more in line with "Don't Run Away" and "House on Highland". I personally can not get this particular song out of my head. In fact last night after listening to it my wife, Meredith, kept walking around singing the chorus. If you are from a town that you could not wait to get out of then you will love this song. I personally think that Josh wanted to leave Lubbock because after I moved there was no point in sticking around. Thats just what I assume, it makes sense doesn't it?

All in all this is without a doubt Rosenthal's strongest album to date. His vocals have taken a two or three steps forward. His song writing has become well-rounded. The bridges compliment the songs, the music fits the lyrics, and the songs on this album mesh well together. This album is worth the money twice over.

Needless to say I give this album 5 out of 5 Lubbock City Limit Signs.


GFP said...

This CD is awesome. I am a new Josh Rosenthal fan. The dude has an ability to tap into your emotions and convert it into music. He makes you feel like he is inside your head... The whole thing reminds you that life is not perfect, but we try, and even though we are not perfect, we can still be loved.

Interestingly when I listen to this music, I am reminded of several groups (that I have only listened to on the radio a long time ago). Without revealing my age, listening to this album gave me flashbacks to Neil Young (when JR sings high), a muted Eddie Vetter (when he sings low), some Grateful Dead, the Eagles, America (you know, "Horse with no Name"), and some other groups that I can't remember. However, Rosenthal's album is unique and does not copy these groups, but shows some of the same skill/artistry/lyrical ability/musical ability of these groups. I think Rosenthal is more thoughtful/deep in terms of lyrics, though.

I can't stop listening to the album!!

John said...

I couldn't agree more with Josh on "Gotta Get Out"!!! I am from Lubbock and I hate it here. I want to move, but the wife has to finish school. We are both sick of being here. Great song Josh!!!