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Josh Taerk Josh Taerk
Album: Stages
Label: Misty Creek
Tracks: 5
Website: http://www.joshtaerk.com

Josh Taerk is a Canadian singer-songwriter compared to the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Ed Sheeran and the Wallflowers. Not only is this lofty company to be in but they all have pretty disparate musical styles, so that immediately bodes well. Since his high profile opening slots with Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band's drummer Max Weinberg back in 2010, Josh appears to have been performing and recording constantly with tours across Canada, US and the UK as well as the release of two studio albums.

2018's EP 'Stages' brings us bang up to date with Josh's 'signature blend of rock'n'roll - Americana'.

All five tracks are Josh Taerk co-writes and whilst he supplies lead vocals and rhythm guitar throughout, across the tracks he is joined by a line up musicians far too numerous to name here.

Opening song 'Learning To Let Go' bowls in on strummed acoustic, a strong, bassy riff and sharp drums. Josh Taerk has a tuneful, quite high register voice with shades of Teddy Thompson in places and it really opens up in the chorus, as does the song.

'Anywhere Love Took Us' rattles in again on a strong electric guitar riff and the whole band sound here has a real E-Street Band sensitivity, particularly the drums. It all drops back a little with the arrival of Josh's vocal, but loses none of the drive for this and still chugs through in a crisp three minutes or so.

'After The Fall' is a slower, gentler affair altogether with its stately acoustic strum and courtly drums that gradually increase in intensity as the song proceeds. This song also features Josh's best vocal in my view, plus an epic guitar solo and a lovely string arrangement. Stirring stuff indeed!

Track four 'Jekyll or Hyde' is another slower turn, but more broody and intense with a sense of space that conjures up images of 'Joshua Tree' era U2 and it boasts the EP's most incisive lyric

'Neverland' brings the record to a close on a mid tempo note and features some particularly fine Mark Knopfler - esque licks that embroider the song throughout and slips it cleverly into another big chorus and showcase guitar solo.

For those that are not aware of Josh Taerk, this will serve as a perfect introduction to his voice, songs and band. To be honest I do not hear much Americana here, but I do hear some great playing and big choruses that lend a strong, almost retro Hall & Oates, Michael McDonald type classy country - pop sheen to the proceedings.

Great fun and although in places the production is perhaps a tad too polished for my ears, I imagine it's live where these performances will take on a more raw, earthy feel that can only serve to increase their appeal.

Paul Jackson