We’ve teamed up with our friends over at One Man In The Middle to bring you regular, unbiased and honest reviews of music albums aimed at the Christian marketplace. This week we have Josh Wright with his debut EP – What You Could Do With Me crowdfunded through Pledge Music and with an overall review score of 9.7 out of 10.
Josh grew up in the small town with only 800 residents called Celeste in Texas. With no music curriculum Josh cultivated his own talents under the mentorship of his Dad, a pianist and singer. God had put a desire into Josh’s heart to sing and lead worship. The next step took him to Belmont University in Nashville and after various showcases and graduation even auditioning for American Idol.
Josh started recording his own music and videos and caught the eye of a former schoolmate who runs an artist management agency. Now after a year of writing Josh was finally ready to start recording his debut EP.
Life isn’t easy and the way that you cope when you get knocked by things can say a lot about you. In 2013 Josh’s brother was tragically killed and since then Josh has set up the Jordan Casey Wright Foundation helping underprivileged athletes in his home town. At the same time he has been working on this new EP for over a year. Recently Josh posted on his facebook page “It took years to write and months to record an EP that only lasts 17 minutes and 45 seconds” and this is true, it’s a short EP but in a short time it says a lot and gives a great showcase of Josh’s excellent skills in writing and particularly the vocal performance.
This 17 minutes and 45 seconds comprise 5 different songs of modern contemporary pop. These tracks are produced to a high standard and would sit easily in the mainstream if a record label picked him up. 4 out of the 5 tracks are a good quality pop mix with the fifth being a beautiful ballad.
The EP opens with an ominous thunder roll in the background and straight into a stripped back vocal with a drum beat and a little accompaniment as we hear that ‘We are lightning’. I get the impression that this is about being a light in the world of darkness in the middle of the storm, something that cannot be ignored. When we show love in a dark world then we are lightning, there are some Bible references that Christians will notice but they are cleverly mixed into this track which towards the end gives us the first glimpse of the higher range of Josh’s voice that we will see again as the EP continues.
‘Can’t Give Up Now’ continues in a similar style with a slightly lighter boppier beat that kind of reminded me of Hanson, there are probably better people secularly that I could reference if I knew them. The track is about not giving up, you keep on moving no matter what is getting in your way.
This leads to the next track called ‘Tear Me Down’ which is about the walls that we put up in our lives to protect ourselves. This is a brilliant illustration of how we allow petty hurts and other things to become huge in our lives and we end up hiding behind them and they stop us from moving on in life, from sharing – anyone who has been hurt in life will recognise this. So Josh asks what would these wall say if they could talk – they’d say “tear me down”! Towards the end of this track we get another blast of Josh’s upper range and also some great little moments that just add a lot of personality and warmth to the track.
‘What you could do with me’ the title track of this EP is an excellent example of a slower song that would easily sit alongside some of the best tracks by Casting Crowns or a similar band. This song really highlights Josh’s standard range singing voice as it is just him with a piano accompaniment and a little percussion at points. This is all about the emotion that Josh conveys through the brilliant lyrics about God being the strength in our weakness – despite our imperfections, looking at what God did with a stone to slay a giant, what can God do with us with a little faith?
To round out this little excellent EP is the last song ‘Try’ which could easily be written for a girl, but I am pretty sure it’s about God and giving our best to Him in worship. Of course the ambiguity works for a track like this, it’s a lovely little pop ditty with plenty of woo woo woo hoo’s to hook you into singing along. Once more the vocal range is huge on this track!
So to Josh I would say this may only be 17 minutes and 45 seconds for a lot of work, but I believe that these songs have the potential to reach a lot of people, and to help them get through their lives one step at a time, and at times you want something to listen to that is nice and light and totally uplifting. Listening to this EP is 17 minutes and 45 seconds very well spent!
The two tracks on this album that I absolutely love are ‘Tear Me Down’ and ‘What You Could Do With Me’ which hit the mark with the writing, performance and sentiment. This EP is a strong debut and I hope that Josh can get traction with this, to bring more to the market because I certainly would like to hear more of this talent!
For $5 on Pledge Music (about £3 in good ol’ English money) this excellent digital EP could be yours and I can guarantee that it would be money well spent!
For track listing, ranking breakdown and more check out onemaninthemiddle.com