Album Review :
Josiah James - Oceans

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Band: Josiah James

Title: Oceans

Label: N/A

Release Date: Nov. 2, 2010

Review By: Scott L

Tracklisting:

  1. Rain
  2. A Crook, A Steal
  3. Maps
  4. After You
  5. Stringless
  6. Waves
  7. Far Away
  8. Oceans

Not having been raised in a Christian home, I missed the opportunity to be named after a person in the Bible. I can’t say that I’m too terribly disappointed because there could always have been a chance that my parents would have chosen one of the more obscure personalities like Phinehas or Jephunneh. And that would have been tough to grow up with. On the other hand, it would have made a great conversation starter and could have provided unlimited opportunities to very naturally segue into a witness for Christ. “So your name’s Phinehas, huh? That’s kind of an unusual name.” “Yeah, I was named after this guy that killed two people with a spear while they were fornicating in a tent. Did you know that fornication’s a sin and that the wages of sin is death. And by death I mean spiritually and eternally separated from God in Hell”. I could get used to that real easy. It sure beats memorizing the four spiritual laws or the whole “Do you think you’re a good person” routine. Not to mention the fact that some Bible names would just be super cool to have. There’s a little guy in my church named Asa and no matter how you approach it, the name totally fits. I think that some names are just like that, and, Biblical or not, Josiah is just a pretty cool name. Add to that the back story of King Josiah and it only gets cooler.

Anyway, Josiah James is for the most part a one-man band. This guy exudes talent like sweat on a fat man at a free dance. Much like his 2009 full-length CD “The Morning Light”, Josiah’s new 8-song EP entitled “Oceans” is a pop-tinged effort relying primarily on acoustic guitar, piano, and a heaping portion of pleading vocals. Drums do make a brief appearance on the opening track, but for the most part it’s a very scaled down and personal feeling CD. Think Jason Mraz meets Secondhand Serenade meets Evan Wickham. Adding, of course, a very Isaac Slade style of warbled vocal delivery.

Many might simply categorize Josiah as another modern worship type artist, but I probably wouldn’t go that route. My reasoning is that he isn’t just another face in a long line of amalgamations of whatever topped the Christian & Gospel charts last week and the week before. I suppose there’s a market for worship clones, supply and demand and all that, but I for one appreciate a little originality now and again. This is precisely what Josiah delivers. Add to that the fact that his songs don’t seem intended to be used as church service choruses, but rather to be simply enjoyed as thought-provoking glimpses into heartfelt spirituality. A more overt tact in some spots would have been nice, but all told there’s really no missing the messages here.

Lyrically, the songs on this EP are uniformly about spiritual change. Changing focus. Changing direction. Changing attitudes and outlooks. They’re also about water. Water? Yup, water. This EP is actually the second release in a three EP series. Each release deals with one of three individual concepts: air, water, or fire. The first EP, “Chasing The Wind”, dealt with the concept of air. This EP, as the title “Oceans” may suggest, deals with the concept of water. But, concept aside, the songs all have a very passionate and personal feel to them. Consider the song “Rain”, one of the more obviously water-themed tracks, “I can hear the sound of rain / falling all around / echoing through my mind / but I don’t feel it inside me / voices sing in unison / they are calling out / reaching for the clouds / let your love come down / and change / rain / wash me in this love / flow through my veins / until all you see is love / love / love / reign in me / rain / captivate my heart / and change everything / until all you see is love / love / love / reign in me / we are soaked head to toe / we are captured in the beauty of who you are / you wrap me like arms do / cause it’s joy / and I’m happy here / just to feel you’re right near / like you’re there / and you always are / and always will be / hear the sound of your spirit come down / love”.

The standout track for me was “Stringless” which struck me as an odd, but highly enjoyable combination of Seabird and Clemency. Both bands I very much like. The opening song, “Rain”, was also noteworthy.

Overall: Josiah James, aside from having a cool name, has put out some cool music. His new 8-song EP is bursting with catchy tunes and an inordinate amount of passion. For a guy who’s been at it from an early age, he manages to juggle a perfect mix of coffee shop minimalism and revival meeting spirituality. This is definitely not one to pass up and should inspire most listeners to be on the lookout for both his previous and forthcoming releases.

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