Josh Birdsong – Simple Geometry
URL: URL: http://www.joshbirdsong.com/
Josh Birdsong’s first collection Simple Geometry is anything but simple. He takes a relatively spartan and basic approach for the skeleton of the EP’s five songs and elaborates on each with great care and tremendous creativity. Much of this is accomplished through the superior production job the release receives and his distinctive take on guitar playing. Birdsong never uses the instrument in a typical way and, instead, gears the six string in a much more comprehensive way – rather than pulling off riffs and needless solos, Birdsong’s musicianship looks to enhance the song as a whole. He eschews any pyrotechnic displays of flash and his ear for a compelling melody seems to be pretty much limitless. There isn’t a single song on Simple Geometry where it sounds like Birdsong is coasting or disinterested. It’s rare to encounter performers and their work when it is so obvious that the central figure is hanging with every word and note, but that’s very much the case with Simple Geometry and it makes for one of the year’s most impressive debuts.
The impressiveness begins immediately. “Unspeakable” will win you over immediately with its evocative sound, cunningly intelligent and occasionally barbed lyrical content, and the accomplished vocal from Birdsong. The delays and reverb employed on Birdsong’s guitar never distract from the listening experience or weaken the songs with unnecessary indulgence. The spirit of each individual track cut in this mold comes through from the outset and never wavers. “Radio Waves” comes after the listener with serious intentions, but it’s never aggressive. The guitar work is difficult to deny and its free ranging melodic strangeness nevertheless quickly makes sense to ears unaccustomed to hearing the guitar presented in such a fashion. His effects driven guitar work reaches its like apex here. “Drive” elaborates on the approach heard in the first two songs by introducing an acoustic guitar to the mix, underneath the surface, and this solid underpinning gives the song a measurable weight previous songs lack. The clean production gives him no place to hide and it’s just as well – Birdsong shines brighter here than anywhere else at this point.
“Why” brings him much closer to outright rock, but the reason isn’t probably what you’d suspect. Instead of flaring guitar theatrics, the rock tendencies here come from the song’s construction and mood. While he revisits the effects heard on the EP’s first two tracks, Birdsong attacks the song in a much more decisive way here and veers between clean, almost spartan, passages and stormy musical rave-ups. There are no such fireworks at the end. The final song “You and I” is the quiet after the storm when you take stock of what truly matters to you and don’t need the flash and theater of earlier attempts to say what you mean. The acoustic guitar and vocal focused track finds its mark with little effort and closes the release in a definitive fashion. Simple Geometry will find a wide audience and Birdsong’s career is off to an auspicious start.
9 out of 10 stars.