A little while ago, a friend approached me on Facebook with the type of private message I normally dread. It began with a phrase something like “Hey, you write a blog, don’t you? Well, I have this friend who’s in a band……..”. Now, I have to be honest, normally at this point my attention will begin to wander much like it does when my wife mentions the washing up, or the kids are describing in intimate detail the last two hours of cartoons they’ve just watched. It’s not that I’m a miserable sod (OK, yes, I AM a miserable sod…) but because if I were to write all the ‘just this one time’ posts that others ask me to do, I’d never write anything of my own. On this occasion though, even though I was already in the middle of several other bits of writing, I decided I’d pay attention to his request. This is mainly in part due to the fact that the friend asking me has been a mate of mine for many years, and gives a huge amount of his own personal time to others – in fact, he’s just started his own charity. He also knows more about music than most of us combined, and has a great ear for talent, so I figured it was the least I could do to help him (or his friend) out for a change, and after getting some details from him, I agreed to write a review for his friend’s new EP, which was imminently due for release. And that, fair and gentle reader, is how I came to be introduced to a young man named Josh Savage, and his EP, Mountains in Hurricanes.
Before I get into my reactions to his music, let me briefly tell you about Josh himself. English in origins, Josh spent the formative years of his childhood growing up in France, where his singing talents were discovered at an early age. He was a choral singer, often performing as a soloist for noteworthy groups including the Choir of the American Cathedral in Paris. He returned to England in 2003 and continued to both sing and perform classical music, touring Australia and New Zealand with the National Children’s Choir. He fronted an Indie band at university (Taming the Savage) and for his dissertation he wrote, recorded and produced an album, in French, in less than ten weeks. Since leaving university, he has continued to produce his own music, sometimes as a solo artist and sometimes with a string trio or full backing band. Remarkably, this is only a selection of his accomplishments as well – there is much, much more to his history up to this point, but I shall direct you to places you can read up on all that yourself later on.
Musically, it’s quite difficult to give a simple ‘pigeonhole’ description to Josh’s work. I suppose the epithet of ‘singer/songwriter’ is the closest you could come, but that really fails to do justice to the depth and thought behind his work. Sections of sparse, stripped back vocal work laid over delicately picked guitar melodies do, at times, remind you of other vocalists, but several factors set him apart from the never ending stream of ‘popular’ artists to which the description applies. Although still comparatively young, Josh shows in his lyrical content a worldliness and wisdom that belies his years. Certainly, there is far more substance and thoughtfulness to his songs than many of his peers, a most refreshing change from work that seems, more and more often these days, to assume that the target audience has no intelligence. Vocally, Josh has a wonderful voice that in it’s quieter, more reflecting moments carries a great deal of empathy, making it easy to engage with his themes and transporting the listener into his world. He excels at infusing his lyrics with emotion, moving the listener to feel his suffering and joy and to place them selves in his shoes as he tells his stories. However, don’t let those quieter moments fool you; when the time comes for a more forceful delivery, his voice truly soars. Although not, perhaps, yet in the same league, the immediate comparison that occurred to me was with vocalists such as Chris Cornell; almost shy and unassuming at points, only to burst into life with a power and resonance that both surprises and delights the listener.
One of the really great things about this EP is just how well Josh has applied his wide musical experience to produce a well rounded and balanced work. When his guitar and voice are joined by a string section the arrangements work really well together, enhancing his tunes without being overbearing or superfluous. Similarly, his female backing singer on the track ‘Figure You Out’ intertwines some lovely harmonies into the song, without the focus being shifted away from Josh. Not only has he managed to produce a set of songs that are all fantastic in their own right, but to craft a sound for himself that is at once both simplistic and yet engaging. Every instrument seems in the perfect place, every note has a purpose, and the finished product shows a musical completeness which surpasses many tunes I’ve heard that were produced with a much larger budget and access to industry professionals. To have produced a work of this quality under any circumstances would be justification for him to feel proud; to have done so as the result of a self-released work without the support of a record label is nothing short of outstanding.
I would be the first to admit that I am no musical genius, nor am I a professional reviewer whose words should be taken as law. That aside, you would have to be deaf not to realise that what this EP gives us is a glimpse of the lofty heights that this performer will soon be enjoying. The moment someone with the right connections finds this on his desk, Josh Savage is going to become a household name; if he doesn’t, I will willingly eat my laptop. Below this, I’ll post links where you can find Josh’s EP for sale – it’s ridiculously cheap for the standard it delivers, and I urge you all to go and check him out now. Yes, NOW!! …. Still here? OK, then let me wrap up by saying this – what I initially pictured as a necessary evil to help out a friend turned into a labour of love, and I must have played this EP at least 20 times in the last three days. Please go and check this out, and support the start of a career that will bring this young man to lofty heights. And while you’re at it, maybe, just maybe, earn yourself the right to one day tell your friends
“Pfft, please – I was into Josh Savage BEFORE he became an international star!!”
“Mountains in Hurricanes” by Josh Savage is now available to purchase from the links below:-
Also please go and take a look at his website, over at http://joshsavagemusic.com/ where you can find a more detailed biography, links to his other work and other great source material.
And finally, do go and watch Josh on Youtube: as a treat for you, here is a link to a Youtube video of Josh performing an open air rendition of the title track on a rooftop. https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=VMqUJNkoUP8