Being an award-winning musician can’t be an easy task. There is press to gather, expectations to reach, and of course the insatiable hunger of a legion of fans (and critics!) whose sole purpose is to critique, judge and hopefully through it all, enjoy the music. There is also the extensive and unavoidable tenuous task of recording the actual music, while trying to expand oneself creatively and uphold the expectations of those who follow your work.
It’s all very exhausting, and for the humble musician, totally worth it. Upon first listen to Josh Damigo‘s new sophomore album “Hope“, this sense of accomplishment comes across loud and clear. The album logs in just over an hour long, and with 17 tracks, there is plenty here for fans to enjoy.
Singer song-writers have a tendency to lean heavily on the “lyrical love train” and compliment it with soft acoustic balladry. Damigo plays up love conventions, but accents it with a full band, only dipping into pure acoustic guitar territory here and there for rewarding results.
The greatest strength of “Hope” is undeniably the instrumentation, which shows off a broad palette of musical influences. Blues, country, folk, and old-school Springsteen inspired rock all add to the concoction of Damigo, who accents the formula with his soft and accessible singing. It is fair to call “Hope”an emotional adventure of sorts. It’s long enough to qualify surely, and has enough dips and rises to rival the best Woody Allen dramedy. If I Had a Dollar is gorgeous, and though it doesn’t ride with a full infectious lead melody, there is enough touching lyrics and softness to qualify it as top-tier acoustic pop music. There is enough piano inclusion in Slow Goin’ to make it stick out, and I Can’t Be Your Man is a surefire highlight that takes a bit from ‘John Mayer’ with its guitar work and soft pattering rhythm.
Damigo seems to be channeling a little bit of Matchbox 20’s Rob Thomas, and Adam Levine from ‘Maroon 5’, which makes his vocal approach comfortable. He’s at home in his own skin, and where his voice falls short of being innovative or enthralling, it is more than made up for in music that is overall dynamic and different enough to justify a run-time of an hour for what is essentially a pop album.
Josh Damigo has a message, that is conveyed with simple utterance here in spades. But beyond the message, and beyond the expectations of holding to a certain artistic standard, and beyond the seedy mess that is the music industry and self promotion and simply making an income writing music and touring the world, you have an artist that really, TRULY, enjoys what he is doing on an instinctual level. You can hear it- it’s quite easy to tell. Josh Damigo loves music. He loves his fans and he loves poignancy- and it spills through every chord and every vocal strain.
Ryan Merkel is a writer on music, pop culture, entertainment, business, and all those other fun things which make life tick. He is an entrepreneur, designer, and overall pop culture enthusiast. Ryan owns the clothing line LoveMended with his wife, which focuses on fashion and charity, as well as the music blog CultureTease. Ryan is the author of two novels, and currently lives in Florida.