It’s been almost three years since we heard from Josh Xantus, now known as Josh X. It appears that he took a little bit of a break from in front of the microphone and focused on writing for others. But now he’s back with a new album and, we have to say, we didn’t realize how much we missed his style of R&B until we heard it.
Vocally X doesn’t have the widest range, but he knows how to use what he has to its fullest. His tenor tends to fall in to the lower part of the register and that works for the types of songs that he tends to do. He gives off an air of gentleness that works for loves songs, but he doesn’t sound immature or lacking in confidence either. The biggest thing about his performance style is that, at times, his affect is very flat and there is almost no dimension in the notes and tone. This seems to be a conscious choice that just doesn’t work out well, as this happens on songs where he is trying to give penance and apologies. Luckily this doesn’t happen very often and you can easily get back into the set after those songs are over.
The overall production thread of the project seems to be the four-by-four island beat, though many of the slower, ballad-like tracks have that kind of Joe Sample jazz sound to them with their essential piano. He also does a remake of the classic Stand By Me backed up by a muted steel drums and it actually sounds pretty nice. There are moments where the meter of the lines doesn’t quite match the thrust of the production, but it doesn’t kill the track by any means. The similar sound over the course of the ten tracks means that some of the songs to meld together at times, but they are not so similar that you can’t tell them apart before he starts singing.
The lyrics for this are all about love and caring, something that can be hard for male artists to spread over an entire album and still get attention against the more “masculine” songs that speak of stealing your girl and playing the field. This is the kind of album that you put on when you want to just spend time with the person you love; the physical is welcomed by not necessary.
Altogether this is a good listen and nice welcome back for an artist who brings something a little different to the table.
Our favorite tracks are Promise, Bye Bye, Creole Love, and Heaven On My Mind. The most skippable track is I Gotta Try.
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