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.
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 little....do 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. CountryChart.com