There is a nice quote from Kevin Smith about the importance of encouraging a person’s creative endeavor. It’s a bit wordy, after all it is Kevin Smith, so I’m not going to repost it, and in the spirit of the thing I think it is more apropos to link to this comic version of it from Zen Pencils.
For this reason when I was contacted by my cousin, Josh, asking if I would review his latest album, Folklore and Whiskey, I knew I had to say yes. Then I had a moment where I thought, “what if it’s just terrible, do I compromise my integrity and spare his feelings?” Then I remembered this is a cousin on my dad’s side, which is musically proficient (for the most part, I mean it did skip me).
I would run into Josh from time to time at punk shows, so I knew that’s where his interest lie. And while I was never able to catch a show, I knew he had been in a punk band, so that’s what I was expecting. Then I read the accompanying bio he sent along stating it was a solo record “combining his punk rock roots with acoustic sound and a love of world music.” Now I was expecting Tim Barry or Frank Turner.
What I got was Tim Barry and Frank Turner. Josh, while younger than myself, definitely has the voice of someone who has been in punk bands. That’s not a bad thing. But while Tim Barry marries his rasp to personal stories of tragedy and woe, Josh’s lyrics are less of a personal narrative and more abstract stories. Modern folklore, as it were, where we are meant to find our own meaning.
The entire EP is set with its opening title track. You get the essence of what the record will be and good taste of Josh’s lyrical ability. I have always been in awe of people who can write interesting and captivating lyrics, my lyrics always end up shallow and uninspired. Josh does a good job of that and I think it is showcased in this first track.
My favorite track from the EP is “Danza De Los Muertos.” In this song, Josh was able to set a tone with his guitar which was then matched well with his vocals and lyrics. It’s this great ominous vibe that is never ruined by a wayward chord or unnecessary word. I enjoyed this track so much that I have included in my latest mix.
And if your preference is best described as songs from Disney movies, then you’re in luck because there is a cover of a Disney song on this EP. I’m not going to say which, you’ll have to seek out the record for yourself, which you can do here. But it seems very fitting, and I am glad he included it.
Other than the Disney song, Josh wrote all the music himself. And for a first solo album, I think this a very strong showing. There have definitely been far worse first efforts, and second or third ones. But I genuinely like this. While it may not be something I go to daily, it’s great for a laid back night with a glass of whiskey and I am happy to have it in my music library.
You should check it out for yourself. You can download it for free, or kick in a few shekels if you’re so inclined. Josh is creating, and that is a great thing. We need more of that. “It costs nothing to encourage an artist. Discourage an artist and you get absolutely nothing in return, ever.”