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Josh Small

Tall

(Suburban Home; US: 26 Jun 2007; UK: 23 Jul 2007)

Country with jazz overtones? Bluegrass dancing with ‘70s piano-pop? It’s really hard to characterize Josh Small’s music, but few banjos have seen as many city lights as the that’s played on Tall, Small’s debut album. Easily ranked right up with the link-minded Backyard Tire Fire, Small displays an affinity for Sufjan-esque backwoods melodicism (the great “Arc de Triumph” which inexplicably turns into a sensational piano rocker during its last 30 seconds) and Pete Seeger folk-classicism (“Knife in My Belly”) in equal measures. Yet Small’s ace-in-the-sleeve remains his lyrics, which can occasionally dip into genre cliché, but more often than not simply knock you out (especially the lines “Well it seems my confessions / Sound more like impressions / Of the beautiful plays on the words” on “My Confessions”). While some may say that the banjo is nothing but a cornball instrument in these modern times, Josh Small is out to prove that the banjo—in fact—has a beautiful, weeping soul.

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Evan Sawdey started contributing to PopMatters in late 2005, and has also had his work featured in publications such as SLUG Magazine, The Metro (U.K.), Soundvenue Magazine (Denmark), the Daily Dot, and multiple national newspapers. Evan has been a guest on WNYC's Soundcheck (an NPR affiliate), was the Executive Producer for the Good With Words: A Tribute to Benjamin Durdle album (available for free at GoodWithWordsAlbum.com), and wrote the liner notes for the 2011 re-release of Andre Cymone's hit 1985 album A.C. (Big Break Records), the 2012 re-release of 'Til Tuesday's 1985 debut Voices Carry, and many others. He is a current member of The Recording Academy and resides in Chicago, Illinois. You can follow him @SawdEye should you be so inclined.


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