Josh Small - Tall (Cover Artwork)

Josh Small

Tall (2007)

Suburban Home

Initially, I was going to review one of Tim Barry's solo CDs (Laurel St. Demo 2005 or Rivanna Junction) instead of Tall by Josh Small. Me being one of the biggest Avail fans in the world and an equally huge Tim Barry fan, I knew I couldn't be objective. Last year, I had the chance to see Tim Barry play at the The Note in Chicago and one of the guys who plays in his band was one of the opening acts. He was a very small guy with a cut-off-sleeve shirt, trucker hat and cowboy boots. It was hard to hear him with all the trendy Chicago pukes talking over the music who were only there to 'be seen' and talk about how wasted they were going to be that night. I caught snippets of songs that sounded great and picked up his CD after the show. I was pleasantly surprised by the honesty and heartfelt tones of Tall.

Throughout this CD, you can't help but feel that Josh was alone, maybe slightly drunk (in a good way) and on his front porch in VA when writing these songs. Josh's voice has a feel of despair and hope all rolled into one. When he sings songs like "Come Down," "Peek Out the Windows" and "Knife in My Belly," it's almost as if he's accepting the pain and putting a positive spin on it, which is what true great artists do.

There are various musicians who contribute to this disc playing drums, violin, congas, upright bass, and piano giving this a feeling of a group of friends getting together and jamming on whatever their heart feels at the moment. A few songs even have a gospel feel to them ("Knife in My Belly") that could easily be sung during any Sunday mass. The songs all flow together and you can picture a few guys sitting on their front porch playing these songs over and over again. That dirty old Southern gospel feel oozes out of every minute Josh small is performing.

Make no mistake about it, this is not one man and an acoustic guitar writing three-chord punk songs. Josh Small has extreme talent to write songs and play it all on acoustic, slide, and banjo. The rhythms, solos, and vocal ranges achieved by Josh are quite mind-blowing. He's not trying to be like Tim Barry or Chuck Ragan; he's taking what these guys do a step further and putting his own twist on acoustic folk/country and making it refreshing.

One can only hope Josh decides to break out on his own more and release some new material in the near future. While myself and many other enjoy the contributions he has made to Tim Barry's solo work, Josh is set to make a name for himself and step into the spotlight as one of this genre's most talented songwriters.