The first album from Nashville based singer/songwriter Josh Birdsong, Simple Geometry, is a five song EP highlighting talents that have garnered him academic honors, prestigious awards, and a growing reputation as one of the finest songwriting talents to emerge on the popular music scene in recent history. His lyrical style seeks to serve the music in important ways, but it likewise bubbles over with intensely literary qualities seldom encountered in popular music today. The guitar is an important instrument on Simple Geometry, but the atmosphere created by the production is equally important in making this EP such a rewarding experience. He shows great vocal flexibility as well – his voice is just as home with the more ambient material as it is with less adorned songs. The modern and retro co-exist quite comfortably here and their juxtaposition against one another makes this an even more unique listen than it might otherwise be.
The chiming guitars ringing out through the early parts of “Unspeakable”, the EP opener, soon segues into gradually mounting drums, but Birdsong’s patiently develops his material. There’s never a feeling of being hurried in any of the release’s five songs. Birdsong’s lyrics are particularly strong here and his phrasing, while serious minded, “Radio Waves” features more guitar than the first song, but it’s never mindless histrionics that Birdsong’s collaborators excel with, but instead making each part functional. The guitar playing is very precise and strongly mimics the sound of radio waves without ever exerting too much strength to make it so. Birdsong’s vocal sensitivity on both of the aforementioned songs is quite remarkable and worth the price of admission alone. “Drive” has an amiable, mid-tempo saunter that’s rendered quite clearly and free from any of the production touches characterizing the first two songs. Birdsong’s vocal relaxes as well and, free of the production effects mentioned earlier, the warmth and timber of his voice emerges clearly for the first time.
There’s a little more urgency fueling “Why?”, befitting its title, and the ambient production of the EP’s first two songs returns here, but not quite as pronounced as before. Birdsong’s vocal cuts against the moderate urgency of the song with the same careful and gentle singing that distinguished the previous tracks. Much of the template established over the first two songs, particularly regarding the way guitar is used, re-emerges here with a sharp edge and the intensity only grows as the end approaches. The EP’s last song “You and I” ends Simple Geometry with a pure folk song with a five star vocal from Birdsong and lyrics that approach familiar subjects in new and highly personal ways. The acoustic guitar supporting Birdsong’s voice never overreaches and focuses on creating a sturdy melody from which Birdsong can weave his own magic.
Simple Geometry amply illustrates why Birdsong has been so lauded and hailed as an important new voice on the scene. The musical content shows great taste and artistry, but the lyrical content excels on a whole other level. Josh Birdsong’s debut album marks the first step in what will surely be a steady ascension into widespread name recognition and critical respect.