Singer/songwriter Josh Rosenthal has undertaken a gargantuan task by releasing a series of four albums in four months. The project, simply known as the Villages Suite, speaks of how people live together in community and relate to one another. The first of the four albums, Overture, introduces listeners to the substance of the next three albums. Overture and Even the Strongest Hero are now available on iTunes. (Read Q&A with Josh about Overture). If you prefer a hard copy of the album, you can purchase Even the Strongest Hero at the Josh Rosenthal online store.
Released September 15, Even the Strongest Hero, the second album in Josh Rosenthal’s Villages Suites is a solo acoustic album that debunks the lone wolf mentality of our culture—people were not meant to be alone. Using the force of his voice and a guitar, Rosenthal stresses, “Solo acoustic albums always force the imagination to add other instruments and other people to the song. While acoustic albums are good, the listener would always benefit from more–while living life alone, we benefit from being surrounded by more people.” (Read more about Rosenthal’s motivation at his blog).
Recorded at Jeff Pardo’s studio, The Track Shack, in Nashville, the album is a compilation of four original songs and a cover of Sarah McLachlan’s “I Will Remember You.” The tone of Even the Strongest Hero is melancholy, yet reflective. Songs like “Change” and “Alone” are unabashedly naked in their universal truths about humankind’s tendency towards doubt and unbelief.
According to Rosenthal, “Alone.” which was co-written with Sparrow Recording artist Josh Wilson, is the song that best describes the message of the Villages Suite. “Even the strongest hero can’t deny what everybody knows, we weren’t meant to be alone. Our culture loves the self made man. But the iconic self made man leads an unsustainable life. There comes a point where everybody needs somebody for emotional/financial/spiritual stability. Bottom line – no matter what our culture communicates, we can’t deny that we were made to be dependent,” says Rosenthal.
“Change” tackles the topic of shame and how we are all covered in it, despite our freedom in God through our identity with Christ. Rosenthal elaborates, “If guilt tells us we’ve done something wrong, shame tells us we ARE something wrong. No matter how successful I become, I will always struggle with an enemy that tells me I am an insufficient failure who should give up.”
Other songs on the album include “Inside Asleep” and “Better Man,” which talk about trusting in the love of Jesus during the storms of life and the love shown to Rosenthal by his wife. “I married a woman who is so patient with me. She doesn’t condescend me. She doesn’t treat me like women treat their husbands on TV; you know, like the ‘King of Queens’. That woman treats her husband like he’s another child, not like he’s her husband. My wife is extremely forgiving. This song honors my wife’s love for me while admitting my inability to be right (shame),” shares a thoughtful Rosenthal.
When responding to my hurried e-mail, Josh added this as a personal note to my comments, “I hope the Villages Suite fits into a lot of people’s stories of healing.” It has certainly fit into mine.
And the story continues with Lonely Together, a full band album, releasing October 13, which will be available on iTunes and through Rosenthal’s site. Stay tuned for coverage of Part 3 of the Villages Suite.