Album Review :
Josh Wilson - Live From The Carson Centre EP

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Artist: Josh Wilson
Title: Live From the Carson Centre EP
Label: Sparrow Records
Release Date: 4/17/12
Reviewer: Jonathan Andre

Tracklisting:

  1. I Refuse
  2. Before The Morning
  3. Fall Apart
  4. Always Only You
  5. Amazing Grace (Instrumental)
  6. Shine On Us

Josh Wilson is one of my favourite male artists, together with Jeremy Camp, Tim Hughes, Steven Curtis Chapman and Chris Tomlin. From El Dorado, Arkansas; Josh Wilson has beautifully crafted many songs throughout his career; from ‘3 Minute Song’ to ‘Saviour Please’, ‘Fall Apart’, ‘Before the Morning’ and the Christmas tune, ‘Jesus Is Alive’. With critical acclaim for his ability to write songs that are heartfelt, yet humorous at the same time; Josh Wilson has created an acoustic EP, Live From The Carson Center; featuring many of Josh’s hits over the years, in an acoustic arrangement. As I listened to the EP, I was marvelled at the musical ability of Josh, and how throughout his entire career, he used to be the only one on stage playing at his live shows, using a looping pedal and creating sounds that emulate various different instruments. His musical talent was further shown on a video with 9 or 10 Josh’s playing various instruments and singing along to his single from See You, ‘I Refuse’. This live recording, from the Songs and Stories tour, promotes some of Josh’s well-known and lesser known songs with his reflective lyrics and enjoyable musical melodies.

Josh Wilson’s most famous song, ‘Before the Morning’, is shown in this EP as a stripped down acoustic track that showcases some of the most heartfelt lyrics written by any artist in a while. Written for his ‘Life is Not a Snapshot’ EP in 2009, ‘Before the Morning’ was inspired by his friends, Tim and Paula Beal, and their son Jayken, born with 2 valves of a heart instead of 4; and with his lungs and kidneys failing. Though the doctors expected Jayken to die within the first four days of his life, to my knowledge he is still alive, and as he was 7 at the time of writing ‘Before the Morning’, I’d imagine he’d be 10 now. This is a wonderful testimony to many other people in this situation, that God is faithful, and that ‘…life is not a snapshot…’ Life has its ups and downs but we know that God is with us. Played live is extremely special, and through the strong acoustic guitar, percussion and strings, the message is highlighted all the more. This is a song that should’ve won ‘Song of the Year’ at the Doves if it was nominated (which it wasn’t!). It’s that powerful. What a great song to be included on this EP.

‘I Refuse’, the first single off his latest studio album See You, is first on the live EP. Not straying far from the original studio version; this has a very light acoustic touch, and is a different twist to its driving guitars during the introduction. As I reflect on the lyrics, I am challenged myself to play my part to help those around me. As Josh explains the heart of the song, ‘…Whenever we care for people who are hungry, thirsty, sick, in prison, we are serving Him. This song is about sharing the love of Jesus with those in need. God has gifted all of us to do something. We need to refuse to do nothing…’ I am reminded and convicted that I need to what God wants of me, to share with my friends and family, to just ask what they need and help accordingly. Another song from See You, ‘Fall Apart’ is another track that is a standout, not just on the EP but also throughout his career. ‘Fall Apart’ is during those moments when you feel like you have nothing to cling to, but Christ Himself. As Josh explains during his concert, ‘…I’ve come to learn that sometimes it’s the most difficult moments in my life when I actually feel God’s presence the most. I think it’s because when everything is stripped away in those dark times, I understand and realise how much I really do need Jesus. The bible says that God is close to the broken hearted and He is true to that promise. He’s true to the promise that He continues to hold things together, even when it feels like they’re falling apart…’ This is a fantastic quote from Josh. God is close to us always, and it is certainly in the moments when you can’t cling to anything except Jesus that your faith in Him and who He is begins to grow more. This acoustic setting fits well with this song, as through the acoustic guitar, percussion and keys, lyrics are all the more accentuated. As we reflect on one of the most emotive songs from Josh’s career, I can realize that God is always faithful.

Throughout the rest of the album, Josh touches upon a few lesser-known songs from his latest studio album. ‘Shine on Us’ is a folk blusey track that speaks of asking the Lord to shine His love on the streets, similar to the city on a hill themed ‘City on a Hill’, ‘We Are’ and ‘Glow’, by Casting Crowns, Kari Jobe and Moriah Peters respectively. As Josh sings through his strumming of the acoustic guitar ‘…so shine on us, oh God we need your love, these streets aren’t bright enough, oh Jesus shine on us…’, together with the looping percussion; I am pleased at how musical this track is, highlighting Josh’s obvious talent of playing any and every musical instrument, traditional or obscure. His musical ability is further highlighted when he plays an instrumental of ‘Amazing Grace’, complete with pedals, loops and lots of plucking, strumming and beating. This is a song, and as I close my eyes and meditate on the Lord, I am overwhelmed at how Josh just starts to worship the Lord through this track, with abandon. This is also one of my highlights, though it is an instrumental. ‘Always Only You’ is a love song that he wrote for his wife, and on his latest album, See You. One of the least known on his album, this is a fun track and an eye-opener to see Josh’s relationship-side. As he sings ‘…I’m gonna love you always, even on the not so sunny days, through the good and the bad…’ I am inspired, that when I meet my future wife, I hope I can enjoy the married life that Josh depicts in this song.

Overall: This is a fantastic EP, and showcases some of Josh’s well known and up and coming hits. Though it seemed a little short with only 6 tracks, as well as missing singles ‘3 Minute Song’, ‘Saviour Please’ and ‘Sing’, this acoustic EP is a gem from an artist that is one of the most lyrically mature out of those in today’s contemporary Christian music scene. Those who enjoy acoustics from Steven Curtis Chapman’s latest album Re:Creation will enjoy this EP.

RIYL: Brandon Heath, Steven Curtis Chapman, Jonny Diaz, Matthew West

Buy the Album: iTunes/Amazon mp3

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