REVIEW: Josh Grider - Brokedown

Josh Grider must have a big set of kahunas.

Yes, you read the above sentence correctly - because it takes some boldness from the nether regions for a country music artist - or any music artist, really - to title a new album "Brokedown." To some lazy music reviewers, a title like  "Brokedown" is a gift from above that would allow them to simply banter on about how 'broken down' the album actually is. However, Josh Grider, a country boy who hails from Las Cruces, New Mexico, doesn't allow for any of that. He has created a tight Album-EP hybrid with six songs and a bonus cut that will knock any lazy, 'broken down' music critic right into top gear. Texas Country Music Review - Josh Grider Brokedown Broke Down

The album begins with the quietly intense "Only Life I've Ever Known (Suburban Song)." Grider oozes sincerity as he grapples with a man coming to terms with the cards life has dealt. The lyrics provide vivid imagery of a man with a not-so-easy life trying to make a living for a family he loves - having to stay in a cheap roadside motel and rolling down the highway with a crumpled map on his vinyl car seat. However, the song leaves the listener with a feeling of contentedness. While life may not be perfect, it's the only life he's known.

On the back of the CD sleeve, Josh Grider explains that "Brokedown" is a collection of songs to enjoy on a quiet summer afternoon with an adult beverage - maybe even with headphones on an MP3 player. Grider said: "After a couple of big production, commercial albums, I was ready to strip it down a something a bit more organic." He added: "We'll rock and roll again soon, but for 2015 this is my offering. I hope you dig it as much as I do."

The second song on the album is "Can't Help But Love Her," which is absolutely shocking for its clarity and simplicity. "Can't Help But Love Her" is a quiet love song which offers lyrics that mention every single thing a woman would want to hear her man say about her to his friends and family. The tight but quiet three-and-a-half minute song is the perfect example of why Grider was wise to pursue a different kind of music project with "Brokedown." Indeed, personal tracks, such as "Can't Help But Love Her," help connect Grider to his expanding fan-base by giving insight into the artist's innermost thoughts and feelings.

"Two Truths and a Lie" is another quiet love song that is old-fashioned country music at its best. This is a traditional country track for all ages that will have college kids slow dancing, parents singing along and grandparents tapping their feet to the slow, confident track with a near-perfect vocal performance

Veteran Texas country star Walt Wilkins joins Josh Grider on the fourth track "The Way I Used To." This song is a simplistic Texas country masterpiece that greatly benefits from Grider's decision to record an acoustic album. The fifth song "I Love A Storm" is the most important track on "Brokedown" - everything from the lyrics to the killer melody to the pitch perfect vocals combine to form a Grammy-worthy offering. Both the instrumentation and production on "I Love A Storm" deserve special mention. Grider's symbolism - which compares his female companion to a storm - is compelling. He sings: "She might make you rue the day you were ever born...I love a woman...I love a storm." Bravo, Josh, because this is one "storm" we will continue to talk about for years to come.

"Brokedown" ends on a bright note with the optimistic "Welcome To Earth." As a parent, Grider confidently performs the song that will be a new favorite for any mother or father remembering the day their children were born. Once again, the vocal performance hits all the right notes and showcases Grider's everyman appeal. A bonus cut of "You Dream, I'll Drive" is added at the end of the album and is a toe-tapping pleasure with brilliant instrumentation and a memorable melody.

This project is very different from Grider's recent offerings, because "Brokedown" is actually code for a "stripped down" Josh Grider album.   Acoustic albums are risky because they clearly show the strengths - and weaknesses - of musical artists. And it must be said that many acoustic albums are profoundly disappointing, but "Brokedown" from Josh Grider hums along like a classic car in top condition. So the only thing "broke" about this album will be the battery in your MP3 player after repeated, non-stop listens.