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Josh Grider - Sweet Road to Ride

Sweet Road to Ride

Josh Grider

Available from Josh Grider's online store.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

That the crossroads of country, folk, Americana, rock, and MOR have at long last been reached is being increasingly shown in releases like this one. Josh Grider achieves a truly solid synthesis nailed down by earnest singing and catchily grassroots compositions. With his voice very much the center of attention in an excellently recorded disc, a confident mellow backing band his platform alongside a deceptively breezy sense of arrangement, Grider reminds me of a sectarian Wes King, a rougher Harry Chapin, a gritty Rick Nelson, or a more serious Pat McGee.

All those adjectives will alert the perceptive reader that this gent isn't easily caged in a trite reference. His music has a glow despite the many searching questions and perplexing problems addressed in the lyrics. Grider's baseline forte is folk, but there's a healthy dose of country blues in there as well, along with rock, a dash of jazz, and some light funk (all of which fails only once, briefly, in Sometimes, where the repeating background of someone persistently braying "Yeah, whoo!" gets somewhat annoying) carrying a groove that quickly climbs into your blood and forebrain, sometimes eliciting a bit of seat dancing, especially during Love Went Wrong, other times provoking a good deal of thought and reminiscence.

Grider couldn't possibly have found a better production/engineering unit than his very own keyboardist/accompanying guitarist Mark Addison, who turns in a refreshing, airy, bouncy, clear, and perfectly balanced document. I haven't heard lead vocals this superlatively matrixed for quite a while, especially with all the other aspects tucked in as natural extensions. Every one of the band members is a multi-instrumentalist, and their backing vocals are tantalizing, just enough to lean you forward in your seat while sufficently spare to have you wanting more, never crowding things, a cooling atmosphere and the sweet edge to the pain in cuts like the killer ballad Again, a song I suspect Jackson Browne is going to wish he'd written…everything about it is classic.

Probably the best comparative I can think of is that Josh Grider reminds me of a young Chris Smither (here), imbued with an authenticity that recruited legendary Texan Walt Wilkins to co-write a tune with him. Though Grider takes various avenues during the course of Sweet Road to Life, there's a quiet intensity to his center that will guide him well through the years, continually ripening.

Track List:

  • Here With Me (Grider / Wilkins)
  • While You were Sleeping (Josh Grider)
  • Great Divide (Josh Grider)
  • Sunburn (Josh Grider)
  • Over my Head (Josh Grider)
  • Sometimes (Josh Grider)
  • Love Went Wrong (Grider / Reese)
  • Halfway There (Josh Grider)
  • They Ain't Found Us Yet (Grider / Kennedy)
  • Again (Josh Grider)
  • Watch Me Now (Grider / Reese)

Edited by: David N. Pyles


Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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