More Than A Pretty Face
It’s difficult to listen to Almost Honest, Josh Kelley’s sophomore release, without thinking of his contemporaries, like John Mayer and Jack Johnson. He too has the same youthful, charismatic contemporary rock vibe. At its weakest, the album is formulaic but at the height, it’s soulful and moving. Kelley’s voice, charm and instincts make this album ultimately worth paying attention to.Almost Honest blends mostly up-tempo, catchy songs with unexpectedly mature ballads. The first couple of tracks, “Walk Fast” and “Only You,” set the radio friendly tone. Kelley plays it safe as he sings in “Walk Fast,” “Cause if you want me to love you/You better open up the door.” What gives the album depth is the standout track “Almost Honest.” It’s a stunning, piano driven ballad about regret and infidelity, admitting, “I gave in to the loneliness.”
Even when the material doesn’t hold up, it’s hard to not like Kelly, with his earthy, soulful voice. The guitar heavy “Shameless Heart ” is obviously influenced by Jeff Buckley, but Kelly doesn’t possess the late singer’s beauty and sadness. It comes off sounding more like a Chris Isaak knock off. Even so, its rawness is a nice addition to the more polished tracks on the album.
The last track, “Lydia,” provides a perfect ending. With minimal accompaniment (piano and bass mostly) the stripped down singer describes a lost love. “What might have been just makes me weep …the sky’s still blue/When you’re looking down/Do you approve?”
Josh Kelley’s style may seem cheerful and light, but he’s got depth. Hopefully, he’ll avoid being seen as just another pop singer. Based on this album his future looks bright.