I picked up a lovely email in the wake of posting a review of Paul Henshaw and the Scientific Simpletons excellent new album from a fellow called Josh Lobley. Someone I’ve yet to encounter on the musical rounds, but with such luminaries as the aforementioned Paul, Nick Parker, Davey Malone, John Leonard and Ben Sydes as friends in common on Facebook hopefully in live terms at least that’s an omission I’ll be able to put right in time.
He wanted me to review his new EP – Fireside Lullabies – which is set for launch on 25th January (with an accompanying event that day hosted at Albert’s Pour House in Shrewsbury). It still freaks me out a bit when people ask me to do that, I’m not a musical expert – I only really started this blog to help build the profile of a little known band called Ferocious Dog, after all – haha!
But I do still muse upon releases of artists I’m more familiar with occasionally, so it’s really humbling when someone reaches out – and it’s a responsibility I take quite seriously. With my limited dabbling in creating music I know how much hard work it is even to get to my ham-fisted skill level, so it’s quite the privilege to be asked my view on something someone has poured their hard work, creativity and passion into.
Five tracks quickly winged their way into my email and I’ve been immersing myself in them for a few days now – mercifully (selfish of me, I know!), I really love these heartfelt tunes. It’s brave to put your music out there regardless, doubly so when the lyrical content is really personal – or broader musings about the state of the world, which I think will probably resonate with most of us!
The EP is bookended by the soothing crackling sound of a fire, very in keeping with the title. Digital Age starts with gentle guitar and vocals lamenting our fixation with our digital lives – obsessions with Facebook likes, Twitter followers whilst neglecting real life. Definitely something I fall foul of (not that I really care how many likes or follows I get, but certainly I spend an inordinate amount of time using social media).
Percussion kicks gently along with backing vocals to build up a few layers. Vocally Josh reminds me a bit of Doozer McDooze – not in a soundalike kinda way, I guess he must have a similar vocal register! There’s a whiff of Paul Henshaw in there too (I suspect they are geographically close in origin so maybe that’s just an accent thing!). As the song builds bass kicks in and some background singalongable ‘Whoa-oh ohs’ and what sounds like some kind of pipes as it builds up to a tumultuous climax, finally calming down back to a gentle finish.
15 Years On starts with some lovely melodious guitar picking, and reminiscing about the difficulty in dealing with parents getting divorced during childhood. Mercifully not something I can relate directly to – eventually percussion and accompiment arrive and the passion in the vocals picks up. It feels like an overdue opportunity to address something that perhaps you’re not equipped to as a pre/early teen.
Keep that in Sight follows – again we kick in with picked guitar and vocals, ruminating on our tendency to chase the dollar as we get entrenched in the rat race. As the rest of the instrumentation kicks in you’re treated to one hell of a catchy chorus – don’t feel the need to go so high, you may realise in your sombre eyes things lower down are alright – with an all too welcome reminder that it’s all too easy to get lost in that kind of ambition and drive for money, and forget the simple things in life like being kind.
Percussion builds with some grungy acoustic guitar for a change of mood with This Maze, the mood is darker although the vocal delivery offers a shred of optimism. Josh told me that the focus is around anxiety and how that feels, and there’s certainly that kind of dystopic feel to it. Self doubt and self pity is a prominent feature – although once the electric guitar kicks in with a jangly lilt it definitely offers more than a glimmer of hope, with a promise to help others who might find themselves in a similar place.
Finally acoustic guitar strumming and some gorgeous strings backing it up brings us to the gentle lull of Fireside Lullabies, which does feel like a nice positive ending point. Rife with messages of inclusivity and acceptance and – perhaps most crucially – the importance of spending time with people. There’s affirmation for aspiring artists in there too to keep plugging away. It’s a nice uplifting end to close what have been some challenging topics.
The track fades out to more comforting crackling fire sounds. Colour me relieved – I’ve genuinely enjoyed listening to these songs over the last few days, which has made writing a review all the more easy! So keep an eye out for release on 25th January next year (I’d recommend giving Josh’s page a like so that you’ll get a helpful reminder!), he has a couple of existing EPs out already too which you can check out.