Some of you will doubtless remember that, a whole year ago, I wrote a review for an EP that was coming out by a young artist called Josh Savage. If you don’t recall that or you’re new to the blog, you can find the original post HERE. I initially only did the review because I was asked by a friend I respect a lot, and it’s not the sort of thing I normally think of when it comes to posts for this blog. I approached the task thinking it would be a bit of a drag – that is, of course, until I actually listened to the EP. You can follow the link above to see how it only took a few listens to change my mind. Now, with the release of Josh Savage’s new EP due in a few days, I was delighted to hear from Josh, who asked me if I would write a review for the upcoming work. This time, I accepted without reservation, since I have become in the intervening time somewhat of a Josh Savage fan.
Since I first wrote about Josh, he has been a very busy boy. His wealth of natural talent and his song crafting ability have propelled him from relative obscurity on the local scene to a wealth of high-profile events and a series of concerts that have, quite literally, made him famous worldwide. Josh has played all over the UK, and throughout Europe and the Middle East. In 2013 alone, this formerly unknown artist was booked to play seven major festivals. He has played as support to a whole raft of famous acts including Benjamin Francis Leftwich, Reverend and the Makers, Roll Deep and Rizzle Kicks, and played a supporting role to Johnny Borrell from Razorlight when his new band, Zazou, played in Paris. He has sung in front of members of the Royal Family in Dubai, and was even shortlisted to open for Sting in Abu Dhabi!!
When I reviewed ‘Mountains in Hurricanes’, Josh’s debut EP, I made the bold statement that if his career didn’t take off in a big way and make him a star, I would eat my laptop. Josh wrote to me after that review to say thank you, and told me that he hoped my laptop wouldn’t taste too bad. Fortunately, Josh is a very modest guy who either underestimates how good he really is, or is incredibly humble about it, because I am glad to say my stomach is perfectly safe for now. Although he still self-produces the majority of his work, the track ‘Lost in Paris’ that features on this new EP was produced by Julian Simmons, whose credits include Ed Sheeran and The Guillemots amongst others. The track ‘Mountains in Hurricanes’ has been played on a regular basis by BBC Introducing, and this EP features two versions of the stunning track ‘Your Lips’, one of which is a live version recorded on the same show. Later this year, Josh (who is bilingual and spent his younger years growing up in France) releases another EP, in French, called ‘Quatre Épines’ and the title track is already being played on BBC 6Music. The prospect of imminent stardom for this young man is not a question, it is a certainty, and rightly so. Mind you, this is hardly surprising for a man who used to sing himself to sleep before he could talk and began learning the piano aged just 4!!
So what can I say about this new EP? Well, firstly it shows just how this new exposure has helped Josh develop his work. He still delivers the same unique and endearing vocals that made his debut stand out from the usual crowd of ‘young male with guitar’ artists, but now there is a more rounded and polished feel to his work. Where before there was a series of tracks that sounded a cut above the average young artist seeking to break through, now there is a body of work that would sound automatically at home on your radio or in the charts. He clearly has a great sense of melody, and although his musical arrangements take a back seat to the vocals they complement his voice wonderfully. Beautiful, sparse guitar picking overlaid with soaring string sections lend a sense of scale and majesty to his singing, and his vocals somehow seem fuller and richer whilst still retaining the sense of fragility that made him so endearing on his debut. The track ‘Your Lips’ in particular would sound equally at home in the mouth of a major star making millions – the moment the beat drops you find yourself tapping your foot in time, and its infectious rhythm stays with you long after the tune is done.
There are a number of new things present on ‘Spaces’ that place it a step beyond its predecessor. There is a greater depth to the arrangements, with some wonderful touches such as the vocal harmonies on ‘Lost in Paris’ or the riotously up-tempo romp of ‘Horoscopes’, which show that whilst Josh may have stuck to a very similar style to his earlier work there continues to be more and more progression in his songwriting and plenty to keep older fans interested. Lyrically, Josh continues to demonstrate not only his ability to deliver engaging words that catch the imagination, but a vocal style that differs from so many young artists in the respect he offers his listeners. Many ‘modern’ artists seem to feel the need to ‘dumb down’ the lyrical content of their songs to appeal to a much wider audience – Josh’s work instead treats his listener as an intelligent being, and provides him with a much greater scope for subject matter that appeals to a smart listener. His sense of narrative is sublime, drawing the listener in from the first word to the last breath.
Given the progress between last year’s offering and this one, and the ever-increasing world stage that is eager to promote Josh’s music, there is little doubt in my mind that we are witnessing the rapid ascension of ‘the next big thing’. If you want to hear more and stay up to date with what Josh is up to, the appropriate links are below. All I ask is that when he begins to appear on your radio waves and his tour rolls through your towns, you remember where you heard of him first. That way, I might get to briefly bask in the reflected glory of the stellar career that surely awaits this talented young man!! Thanks for taking the time to read, as always, and I hope you enjoy the new EP, which will be available to download from iTunes and other regular music sales sites from April 7th this year.