Joshy Soul = Otis Redding + Mayer Hawthorn + Andra Day
“Salt City Soul,” maybe that’s what they’ll call it. It may sound like an oxymoron, but I’m telling you right now that Joshy Soul is the beginning of a movement, and it doesn’t even matter if any other artists join him or not—he’s that much of a musical force. Normally, I would warn against any artist/band that has the genre of music in their name—like if a band’s name is, “Punk Rock Parade,” that’s not going to be a good punk band—but Joshy Soul more than earns his chosen surname. With Leon Bridges making such a big splash recently with his own brand of vintage soul, it might be a knee-jerk reaction to lump Joshy in as a Johnny-come-lately, but Vintage Dreamin’ is so well-done and fully formed, I would dare say that Joshy is more well-rounded than Bridges, although both are great, Joshy has a better ability to take the listener on a bigger, broader journey. This record encapsulates so much of what makes soul music special—it feels like a thesis paper in record form, where the author proves that all these elements of R&B and soul music of the past—from the early ’50s all the way through to the ’70s—can work together seamlessly.
These eight songs come out effortlessly, and they all pronounce that golden quality of sounding familiar but completely fresh. “Can’t Help Myself” is a soul anthem that starts off with blaring horns that James Brown would be proud of, but then the tempo falls into this terrific groove that makes me want to move. The next track, “Sole,” cools off a bit. Melody-driven, it’s the slow one to get you out on the dancefloor with your dance partner to melt into your arms. “Sweet Moonlight” is a one-man doo-wop tune that just drips of ’50s street corners and street-lamp-lit scenes of romance. “Hey You” punches things up a bit with dance rhythm and blues reminiscent of early–Atlantic Records– era Ray Charles. Dear, My Love is stripped-down soul that proves that a great song needs little production—just Joshy’s voice and a piano gets it there. Vintage Dreamin’ is book-ended with another smashing soul anthem, “Darlin’ Darlin’”—slower than the opening track, just as big in scale. “With a name tattooed on her shoulder / If I knew back then I would have told her” is the line that kills me—the track just sweats with a sweet flavor that makes me want to put it on repeat and just live to it. –James Orme