Mount Richmar Records
Release Date: October 28th 2016
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Amazing Grace (Instrumental)
- All Creatures of Our God and King (Instrumental)
- How Much More (Asher’s Song)
- How Great Thou Art (Instrumental)
- Be Thou My Vision
On the heels of quite possibly one of his most successful albums to date (That Was Then, This is Now received a 5/5 score from us here at 365 Days of Inspiring Media), Josh Wilson the multi-instrumentalist has once again delivered with this 5 track EP, released independently through Mount Richmar Records. In fact, Josh’s talent as a multi-instrumentalist makes him one of the most underrated singer/songwriters I’ve heard and enjoyed within the last few years, even in the same league and realm as artists like Jason Gray, Steven Curtis Chapman, Nichole Nordeman, Andrew Peterson and Bebo Norman. Josh has always given us stories to think about and songs to sing, and nothing is any different in this encouraging, albeit short, EP. To be honest, one of the most unique artists I’ve come across this side of the millennia (I can’t even think of any other artists that can undertake the acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass guitar, keyboards, ukulele, banjo, glockenspiel, as well as some percussion with such poise and professionalism), Josh Wilson has always written songs that are honest and heartfelt. Having an ability to deliver and write some of the most relevant songs I’ve heard, from “3 Minute Song”, “Before the Morning” and “Carry Me”, to “They Just Believe”, “Fall Apart” and “Pushing Back the Dark”; Josh’s fast bolt into CCM stardom occurred shortly after his debut label album Trying to Fit an Ocean in a Cup that released in 2008.
7 years and 5 albums later, his 2015 album That Was Then, This is Now continued to remind us of God’s never-ending and always life-changing grace, and our emotive yet equally poignant response to this unbelievable decision in this album that in my opinion, was a certain standout, amongst any album, in 2015. With honesty that is as frank as what it should be (but not necessarily the case) in the CCM industry, Josh has continued to tackle issues that a necessary for us to hear- from identity, and doubt, to self-worth, being amazed by creation, as well as saying yes to God no matter what and believing that the grace freely given to us is and should be enough for us to live life guilt-free, all within the confines of his 2015 masterpiece. Now a year and a bit later, we are given 5 tracks, 3 of which are instrumentals, as Josh highlights his musical prowess in an EP which is just too short for us to enjoy (by the time I have enjoyed it, the 5 tracks have ended!). Weaving together personal experience in “How Much More (Asher’s Song)”, as well as the instrumental tracks being as catchy as ever, this is an album you don’t want to miss, if you are a fan of Josh’s music prior, or a fan of any of the similar artists I mentioned previously!
“Amazing Grace”, “How Great Thou Art” and “All Creatures of Our God and King” are all instrumentals- in fact, these tracks are indeed the highlights of the EP. Though I have and will always enjoy Josh’s songwriting and knack to weave together lyric lines that are deep and meaningful as well as fun-filled; I nevertheless cannot knock back a powerful acoustically driven instrumental track. We all know these three hymns, either from Sunday School back in the day or just from hearing hymns on the radio or even from our family or our local church on Sundays. Yet Josh naturally brings something to life, as these hymns are given the acoustic treatment- with various acoustic instruments and looping percussion, Josh invites us all to praise alongside him, despite there being no words to these songs.
In a similar vein to Bethel Music’s Without Words: Synesthesia, where songs are translated and re-recorded without words, to make them more seeker-sensitive, this is what I reckon these three tracks by Josh will do- encourage those who may not have heard much about Jesus to listen to these instrumental tracks, and in some ways, bask in the glory of God through hearing these tracks, while not even knowing it themselves. These three songs are a masterpiece, technically sound and prolific, as Josh encourages us all that worship is far more than the arrangements of the songs, and even far more than the lyrics themselves. We can worship without the words, and this is very true of these three Josh Wilson-ized hymns above! The EP also imparts to us “Be Thou My Vision”, yet another hymn that is piano led and reminds us all that God is our vision and sight when we cannot see the end of the road that we are on, alongside a brand-new song called “How Much More (Asher’s Song)”, a track written for Josh’s young son called Asher. A love song that indeed mirrors the love Christ has for His creation, we see Josh sing to his son about how much he loves him, as we’re reminded that God loves us a million times more than we can ever love anyone here on this earth!
A musical masterpiece from start to finish, Josh’s poetic nature in writing songs is what has drawn me to his music in the first place. With a singer-songwriter atmosphere akin to other artists like Steven Curtis Chapman, Nichole Nordeman or Andrew Peterson, Josh has continued to deliver a plethora of musical arrangements, to present to us Acoustic EP, as we are reminded that great music can be more than just the lyrics sung. Unique in every way imaginable, this is an album not for the casual listener just wanting a song to hear on their road trips- this album requires serious attention, with the musical layers upon layers that each song unveils to the listener. Josh has delivered a standout EP, albeit a short one, destined to be on my iTunes playlist for years to come. Well done Josh for such an innovative EP, fans of artists like Nichole, Steven or Andrew will be sure to enjoy an album by personally one of my favourite songwriters this side of the 2010s!
3 songs to listen to: How Much More, Amazing Grace, All Creatures of Our God and King
RIYL: Andrew Peterson, Steven Curtis Chapman, Nichole Nordeman, Bebo Norman