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Sunday, February 8, 2009

Review: Josh Weinstein - Love & Alcohol

Josh Weinstein – Love & Alcohol
2009, Randomlogo Records

Josh Weinstein is a philosopher/poet who happens to play amazing piano (plus whatever else he can get his hands on). The New York City based resident of the world has carved out a sound that’s part Tom Waits and part Ron Hawkins with a healthy dose of lyrical content ala Charles Bukowski. With the grit and tragedy of life lived a half-step off the streets running through his songs, Weinstein opens listeners’ eyes to a world of dark actions fueled by good intentions. Weinstein will release his third album, Love & Alcohol in the Spring of 2009 (date not yet available). With Love & Alcohol, Josh Weinstein may fully establish himself in critical circles as one of the most talented songwriters the US has to offer.

Josh Weinstein takes great please in exposing the seedier aspects of life on Love & Alcohol. The result is fourteen songs of less than the best of intentions against the backdrop of some deliciously dirty blues arrangements. Weinstein the songwriter wallows in the imperfections of his protagonists, steeped in love, addiction, desire and loneliness. Weinstein the singer/musician delivers an inspired performance that should gather significant critical acclaim. Every New York captures the street-wise grit of another era in New York City. You can almost imagine Kurt Weill’s Mack The Knife (ala Bobby Darin) frequenting the sort of clubs this song would have been played in. One More Blues features some inspired guitar work, and Weinstein absolutely lives the song as a performer. This is the sort of performance that gets considered for awards.

She Rolls Jaunty uses a pair of windshield wipers as the primary percussion in a bit of sonic genius. The piano hook at the center of this is amazingly catchy. The arrangement expands to include strings in a slow building crescendo that falls away at times to reveal just Weinstein and piano. Song A Drunk Man Sings is a bit of levity framed by some viscious harmonica work and a filthy bass line. Tennessee is one of the more memorable tunes on the disc, built on a great piano hook and a “March of the elephants” style bass line. The workman’s chorus is also a nice touch. She Do Not Listen is a “moment” song. Amidst all of the action and controlled chaos from which Weinstein’s songs spring, She Do Not Listen is a moment of quiet composure. It’s a wonderful song that illuminates a side of Weinstein we had yet to see on Love & Alcohol. Other highlights include F**k Is F**k and Trying To Find The Crime.

Josh Weinstein has found a voice that while not unique in popular music is certainly a refreshing break from the norm. Populating his songs and characters in the same fashion as Randy Newman, Weinstein illuminates the darker side of human nature in tunes full of the beauty and angst of the human spirit. It’s a musical street’s eye view of the world that is difficult to capture and even harder to convey in song. Weinstein is a bard in blue, and Love & Alcohol is the set list he plays from. It took a few listens to really get into this one, and now I can’t put it down. Make sure that Love & Alcohol is on your to-do list.

Rating: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Josh Weinstein at or Love & Alcohol is due in early Spring of 2009, but an official release date has not been announced as of the date this review was published. Keep checking back to Weinstein’s website for release information, as well as both CDBaby and, both of whom have carried his two prior releases. In the meantime you can stream some of the new songs at his MySpace page (above).

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