Bird Of Passage

Josh Smith

Flat V Records, 2022

REVIEW BY: Max Kaplan


Josh Smith, a name finally becoming household in the realm of blues guitarists, attempts to grab his space as the prize fighter of the Nashville guitar world with his new album my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Bird Of Passage. Smith reinforces the now popular belief that he is indeed one of the kings of the modern blues guitar with heavy hitting renditions of songs that sound familiar, yet with a new touch. Making an instrumental album palatable to the listener of 2022 is no easy feat, and yet seemingly Smith has managed to take his guitar and appeal to fans of multiple genres.

On the opening track “Doublecross,” Smith blends a few things familiar to any guitar fanatic. Firstly, that syncopated triplet drum intro reminiscent of the great Albert Collins’ opening track on his seminal debut album Truckin’ With Albert Collins. Instantly, the versed listener knows what Smith is attempting to talk about. Smith’s rendition of this essential groove is unique, however, in that Smith blends in a slightly dissonant big horn section along with crunched up compressed and sorted electric blues guitar. The mix of the jazz, rudimentary blues rhythm, and complicated guitar licks is an interesting combo that has found its home on Smith’s new album. The album continues with “Brand New,” a ballad featuring the power of a large horn section. The tune has roots in the styles of B.B. King, however with an unusual chordal format, taking hints from different realms of gospel, jazz, and soul. Smith is an innovator of the guitar and has no problem getting the most out of unusual progressions.

For those trying to remain hip to the ever-changing landscape of the blues guitar, this album is a must listen. Even if one might not enjoy the cryptic tonal passages Smith employs with ease, it is undoubtedly interesting to hear his fresh take on what’s been said countless times.

Rating: A

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