Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Josh Caress-Josh Caress Goes on an Adventure!

November 1, 2006

josh-caress

Band Name: Josh Caress

Album Name: Josh Caress Goes on an Adventure!

Best element: Brilliant, beautiful songwriting.
Genre: Acoustic singer/songwriter

Website: www.myspace.com/joshcaress

Label name: n/a
Band e-mail: joshcaress@yahoo.com

Josh Caress went on tour in support of his previous album Letting Go of a Dream, and as he went on tour, he took notes about the places he visited. He then went all Sufjan on us and composed an album about his journey through America. I couldn’t be more pleased with the results.

I had the distinct privilege of listening to this album as it was intended- as a travelogue. I took a four-day trip, and pretty much all I listened to was this album on repeat, with occasional other bands when I got too entranced with Caress’s rich, full voice and sonorous guitar playing. When played on the road, this album becomes one amazing album- it has traveling woven in it, and when on the road this album reveals itself. Listening to it at home is still an amazing experience, don’t get me wrong- but it’s a traveling CD all the way.

Each song is peppered with city names, landmarks, people, and stories. “Dixie County” is about traveling through the South and realizing that “I know this is right, I just have to know for sure.” The story of reminiscing on college pasts is told in “The Tower of Babble/Carolina Stars”, while “Goodbye, Savannah!” tells the story of a man who is separated from his lover, but “I’ll see you again, when I come back to marry you!” Stories of carousels, thanksgiving, Omaha, and many more run around inside this album- it’s a very, very personal album, but it’s also very universal.

The poignancy of these tales lies not only in Caress’ lyrically plaintive way of relating the stories, but in the fact that the only instrument on the album is an acoustic guitar. Where Caress had loops and strings and beats all over the place in Letting Go of a Dream, Goes on an Adventure! is a much more organic experience. He does layer the guitars, playing second guitar parts as well as creating the effect of droning strings by playing vibrato on the higher strings of his guitar. But it never gets too cluttered- the free, open spaces that it was written in still reside in the framework of the song.

Caress’ lyrics have gotten much better- in picking up a new style of songwriting, the sometimes-clunky lyrics of previous releases have been cut. His delivery of these lyrics has improved as well- the over-the-top issues that seemed to come from too much studio tinkering have been eliminated in this much leaner album. Each time that Caress goes for a vocal line, he hits it, and more often than not, it’s shiver-inducing. The baritone is sure and steady on tunes like “The Happiest Place on Earth”, and it is simply amazing. It sounds as if Josh Caress were born to sing “The Happiest Place on Earth”- his voice and the guitar work together to make a perfectly comfortable song.

If you’re a fan of singer/songwriter fare, you need to do yourself a favor and listen to Josh Caress’ early works. He will be making waves in the bigger music scene, so it’s best to jump on the bandwagon early and get the most out of his beautiful, incredibly written music. Especially if you’re taking a trip through the Midwest.

-Stephen Carradini

independentclauses@hotmail.com

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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