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Josh Grider - Sweet Road to Ride

Sweet Road to Ride

Josh Grider

Available from Josh Grider's online store.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker
(progdawg@hotmail.com).

That the crossroads of country, folk, Americana, rock, and MOR have at long last been reached is being increasingly shown in releases like this one. Josh Grider achieves a truly solid synthesis nailed down by earnest singing and catchily grassroots compositions. With his voice very much the center of attention in an excellently recorded disc, a confident mellow backing band his platform alongside a deceptively breezy sense of arrangement, Grider reminds me of a sectarian Wes King, a rougher Harry Chapin, a gritty Rick Nelson, or a more serious Pat McGee.

All those adjectives will alert the perceptive reader that this gent isn't easily caged in a trite reference. His music has a glow despite the many searching questions and perplexing problems addressed in the lyrics. Grider's baseline forte is folk, but there's a healthy dose of country blues in there as well, along with rock, a dash of jazz, and some light funk (all of which fails only once, briefly, in Sometimes, where the repeating background of someone persistently braying "Yeah, whoo!" gets somewhat annoying) carrying a groove that quickly climbs into your blood and forebrain, sometimes eliciting a bit of seat dancing, especially during Love Went Wrong, other times provoking a good deal of thought and reminiscence.

Grider couldn't possibly have found a better production/engineering unit than his very own keyboardist/accompanying guitarist Mark Addison, who turns in a refreshing, airy, bouncy, clear, and perfectly balanced document. I haven't heard lead vocals this superlatively matrixed for quite a while, especially with all the other aspects tucked in as natural extensions. Every one of the band members is a multi-instrumentalist, and their backing vocals are tantalizing, just enough to lean you forward in your seat while sufficently spare to have you wanting more, never crowding things, a cooling atmosphere and the sweet edge to the pain in cuts like the killer ballad Again, a song I suspect Jackson Browne is going to wish he'd written…everything about it is classic.

Probably the best comparative I can think of is that Josh Grider reminds me of a young Chris Smither (here), imbued with an authenticity that recruited legendary Texan Walt Wilkins to co-write a tune with him. Though Grider takes various avenues during the course of Sweet Road to Life, there's a quiet intensity to his center that will guide him well through the years, continually ripening.

Track List:

  • Here With Me (Grider / Wilkins)
  • While You were Sleeping (Josh Grider)
  • Great Divide (Josh Grider)
  • Sunburn (Josh Grider)
  • Over my Head (Josh Grider)
  • Sometimes (Josh Grider)
  • Love Went Wrong (Grider / Reese)
  • Halfway There (Josh Grider)
  • They Ain't Found Us Yet (Grider / Kennedy)
  • Again (Josh Grider)
  • Watch Me Now (Grider / Reese)

Edited by: David N. Pyles
(dnpyles@acousticmusic.com)

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Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
 

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