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Monday, November 2, 2009

Review: Josh Grider - Sweet Road To Ride

Josh Grider - Sweet Road To Ride
2009, United For Opportunity

Austin, Texas singer-songwriter Josh Grider basks in ambivalence on his sophomore album, Sweet Road To Ride. Exploring the issues presented by a life on the road and how they contrast with the need for family, loved ones and a sense of home, Grider writes from the heart about struggles between the two competing calls. In the process, Grider explores a wider range of sounds and styles than on 2007's Million Miles To Go. This time Grider has the Josh Grider Trio (Chris Grady - upright bass; Jeff Botta - drums & percussion) by his side, allowing for a broader exploration of musical styles and sounds. The results are an emotionally powerful and musically pleasant listening experience.

Grider dives on in with Here With Me, lamenting the distance between himself and his loved ones on the road. Written in an Americana/Singer-Songwriter styles, Here With Me features a strong melody and decent pop sensibilities. While You Were Sleeping is a well-written tune with a confounding twist. Imagine waking up one morning and finding out your whole world had changed; that's the premise here. The first single from the album is Great Divide, a song about the head vs. heart argument that plagues every career road traveler regarding the road versus home conflict. Great Divide is a bit cliché but a pleasant listen. This probably wasn't the best choice for a lead single however, as Here With Me likely has more legs.

Grider gets quiet and pensive on Sunburn, perhaps the best songwriting on the disc. Sunburn is one of those tunes that you might overlook on first listen but digs its hooks a little deeper every time you play it. From this well of emotional solitude Grider slides into full blown panic on Over My Head, where a player is caught by surprise by three little words that pass his lips and turn everything he knows upside down. Love Went Wrong is written in a light-Blues style that is likely to be appealing to listeners. Sometimes and Half Way There fall more into the writing exercise/call-and-response category. Both are entertaining but I am not sure Grider puts the best face on these tunes. They Ain't Found Us Yet and Again play on the flat side energy-wise before Grider winds up with Watch Me Now. The song is a declaration of self featuring great vocal harmonies.

There's no sense of resolution on Sweet Road To Ride, but this convention is over-rated in any case. Grider presents a clear picture of the emotional struggle that faces all traveling musicians at some point in their life/career, particularly as their non-music responsibilities grow. Sweet Road To Ride is well-written and well-executed. Grider is a solid vocalist with a great sound, although the personal dynamic here is a bit muted. Grider is definitely worth checking out.

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Josh Grider at or You can purchase Sweet Road To Ride as either a CD or download through Grider’s webstore.

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