JOSH HARTY – NOWHERE
2012 – Magnolia Recording Company
Josh Harty is the possessor of a warm expressive vocal style that would under most circumstances ensure a good living in roots music but when you add his quality song writing and the fact that he is also no slouch on the guitar he would, in a just world, be guaranteed success. We all know that we don’t live in a just world but he does have talent enough, so with a little luck he may get the plaudits that this seven track album justifies and is starting to garner. A dangerous assertion on the strength of just a few songs I know, but there is enough about his style that has a strong individuality, a lot of intensity and no little talent. This is his third album and I haven’t heard the previous two but I will be searching them out to see if this is just a one off or the third part of a high quality catalogue. I suspect the latter!
There is a folksy bluesiness to much of his music on this album of slow, sparse but atmospheric tales that contain instruments such as guitar, mandolin, accordion, violin, bass,
supporting songs that vary in degrees of darkness! Four of the songs are written by Josh, plus one, album opener Whiskey & Morphine, a co write with Jeremiah Nelson plus Brooks West’s 6th Avenue
and an excellent version of Richard Thompson’s 1952 Vincent Black Lightning.
The already mentioned album opener Whiskey & Morphine is underpinned by his excellent acoustic guitar playing and the supportive upright bass on an incredibly dark tale where redemption and comfort just won’t come, made even darker by being interspersed with the addition of a slow moodilly atmospheric violin and the subtle beauty of Brianna Lane’s vocal harmonies. This is followed by another slow moody acoustic guitar and bass led song, the title track, Nowhere,a tale about seeking to eradicate the mistakes made in life, again with lovely harmonies and for a
little diversity a mandolin. Next comes a song with a faster tempo Sweet Solution, a tale of someone who can’t make up his mind about the ultimate solution to lifes unredemptive problems. Josh’s acoustic guitar and the usual excellent double bass push the song along but with the lovely mandolin and violin adding to the musicality.
It is certainly not an album of upbeat dance music, more a small collection of moody songs on which the storyteller reflects on life’s trials and tribulations.