Saturday, August 18, 2012

Josh Gilligan - Flesh and Blood

This artist's name made me chuckle.  Josh Gilligan, the last name I immediately associated with comedian Bob Denver's character in his 1960's "island-based" situation comedy; the first name I saw as “jive, put-on or joking around”.  Yet, after I listened to his debut release Flesh and Blood I can tell you Josh Gilligan is no joke.  He is an up and coming contemporary folk/alternative artist.

There is depth to Gilligan's lyrics.  There is beauty in his voice - it is smooth silk, mature beyond Gilligan's 21 years.  His arrangements are well-rounded and the orchestration is superb.  If there is any problem with this effort it is in the way the instruments were recorded.  Some of the sound is so unprocessed and clean that it actually detracts from an otherwise fantastic track.  This is particularly evident on "Take Your Love" and "Stowaway," both beautiful melancholy love songs. Unfortunately the microphone picks up the screech of guitar strings on every change to a new chord position.  However, that does not totally detract from what Josh Gilligan has accomplished with Flesh and Blood.

Gilligan offers a complete kaleidoscope of sound and texture on this eight track effort.  The final cut, "Beaten Path"; is a stark balladeer-like guitar song. "Open Eyes" is full of driving harmonies. “Fear” is a building, drumbeat folk rock anthem.  "Let Go," provides a syncopated, composition with echoes of Al Stewart in the voice and arrangement;  and the effort's namesake, "Flesh and Blood," is  an unusual orchestrated sorrowful country rock ballad.

What made Paul Simon a superstar was not just his performance.  There are plenty of  great performers.  It was his ability to write beautiful, inspiring songs and deliver them with meaning in his (and Art Garfunkel's) voice.  It was a sound that helped shape a generation.  Flesh and Blood shows that that Josh Gilligan has many of the same ingredients found in early Paul Simon - great writing, a beautiful voice, and a broadly accessible and attractive presentation.

Yet. I can't shake a vision of Mary Ann, Ginger and Lovey swooning as Bob Denver in his red shirt, white pants and sailor hat sings and plays an acoustic guitar accompanied by the Skipper on lead guitar, Thurston Howell, III on bass guitar, and the Professor on drums.  Good job little buddy!

-  Old School




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