I first discovered Josh Small as the guitar-picking accompaniment to Tim Barry‘s great Rivanna Junction album and tour. Try as he might to stay in the background, Small’s guitar playing quickly brought him to the forefront. Tall not only showcases Small’s guitar picking, but his impressive songwriting as well.
While perhaps not an experienced singer, Small’s natural, unpolished delivery fits these ragged songs perfectly. Small is obviously a fine musician but he also knows how to construct a song. Much like Tim Barry’s Rivanna Junction, the instrumental additions of piano, banjo, slide guitar and mandolin add a whole lot of weight to Small’s rustic tunes. Even horns appear on the fantastic “Moses.” On tracks like “Indiana” there is a noticeable pop underbelly to Small’s raw folk approach. It is a trait that Small would be well served to explore more in the future. At over 50 minutes, Tall does play a little long. However, Small’s talent is able to carry the load most of the time.
Oddly, Suburban Home is becoming quite the alt-country label with releases from Drag The River, Tim Barry, Ghost Buffalo and now Josh Small. The label that was once entrenched in pop-punk has truly reinvented itself. While Tall may take a little more time to become acquainted with, it is well worth the effort. So, do yourself a favor and let Josh Small and his guitar take you on a little trip down a dusty road.