I’m trying a new thing here at Backseat Writer–it’s called a raw review. No, not as in the raw review, which would be highly inappropriate. A raw review is a collection of my first thoughts on an album before I do an official review or interview. It’s less “pretty”, less polished, and off-the-cuff. Let me know if you enjoy the “raw review” and I’ll do more in the future.
After Matt at EMI told me to check out Josh Wilson, I had to admit I was pretty stoked. On his MySpace (where you can also preview his songs on the music player), there’s a video of Josh Wilson doing some mad pedal pushing–meaning almost every instrument you hear on his debut album which releases April 29, Trying To Fit The Ocean In A Cup, is played by Josh himself. Below is a video of Josh doing a mad rendition of “Amazing Grace”. Play close attention to his chord hand and strumming hand–tight, eh? Plus, notice the flow between pedal pushes. The only other person I’ve ever seen use pedals this gracefully (or well at all) was Phil Keaggy, who I still attribute to being the most amazing performer I have ever seen play live.
The album, which has yet to be mastered, is pretty spectacular. I’ve admitted in the past that I have a certain weakness for singer/songwriters and debut artists (Josh Wilson is both), but Trying To Fit The Ocean In A Cup far exceeded even my expectations. I listened to the album this afternoon, fully preparing to relax to some good background music.
From the first song, which happened to be “Savior, Please”, I was engaged…with the music, not to a guy. I mean, wow, that would be something, wouldn’t it? Desperate singles (like me) everywhere would be blasting Josh Wilson music from their stereos in church parking lots across the nation. Unfortunately, while the music is engaging, it probably won’t get you engaged. But you never know.
So, yeah, “Savior Please”…it’s an honest song that’s lyrically simple, yet profoundly true. After a trying couple of months, the transparency of “Savior, Please” had me flat on my face. For me, it was one of those songs that expresses the groans of my soul.
“Something’s Got to Change” starts out with this lovely, slightly haunting piano intro. The vocals are low, soft, and deliberate. Eventually builds by moving into faster tempo and a higher vocals. Again, the words speak volumes without being vague, “Do you remember when you had so much hope in you? It lingers inside you still.”
Not only does Josh tickle the ivories in “Dear Money”, he takes us down a funky road complete with a horn medley. Tackling the love of money Josh sings, “I’m changing the locks on my pockets now” and “I love to love to hate to love you, but I can’t get enough of you.” It’s funny because it’s true.
The quirkiest song on the album is “3 Minute Song”, which reminds me of “The Other Side of the Radio” by Chris Rice. Speaking directly to the listener, Josh gets cheeky as he discusses the absurdity of trying to explain God’s majesy in three minutes (and in 3 chords or 4, which is brilliant observation). I believe Josh is even rocking the banjo in this song.
I could go on and on about every song, but then there would be nothing to write about in Josh Wilson’s upcoming article (if you have any questions you’d like me to ask Josh, feel free to leave ’em in the comments section).
Trying To Fit The Ocean In A Cup is more than an album with a thought-provoking title. Josh Wilson proves himself to be a master of intruments, melodies, transitions, lyrics, and emotion. Pulling from the deeply personal, Josh not only relates to listeners; he has created something with such musical depth and beauty that it begs to be listened to repeatedly.