That One Eyed Kid’s newest EP Crash and Burn builds on the work produced over the project’s first two releases while showing a steady growth in songwriting powers. The EP’s five songs never restrict themselves to one approach but, instead, base a number of excursions from the songwriting’s central style and never fail to carry the audience with them. The production is stellar and the equal of anything issued by a major label. Josh Friedman, the creative engine behind this one man band, employs an electronic music design on the songs that never lack warmth and achieves a perfect balance between its various components. Electronic music is often knocked as lifeless or too plotted out, but That One Eyed Kid has a voice and writes songs that can never be accused as such. The heart-racing emotion powering many of these tracks crackle and pop with vivid life.
Crash and Burn opens with excellent results. The EP’s first song “Bright Big Red” follows a clearly defined path from the first to the last and has a hook laden structure sure to beguile many listeners. Friedman uses a variety of synthesizer sounds in creative ways and applies their sonics sparsely enough that there’s never any danger of those instruments overwhelming the song. Newcomers will likely consider, however, Friedman’s voice to be a minor revelation – at least. He has a nuanced way of getting under the surface of a song, utilizing intelligent phrasing, and yet his vocals ring out with a glossy musical shine. “Burn Out Right” continues Friedman’s wont for building his tracks around a simple, yet memorable, groove and he delivers a singing performance full of even more passion than what we heard in the first track. It has a more insistent spirit than the opener and its difference in attitude is notable while remaining consistent with the EP’s beginning. There’s a much more traditional structure underpinning the entertainment value of “Native Advertising”. Friedman inhabits it, however, with every bit of the same musicality and spirit filling the earlier numbers and the backing vocals added to the mix are the final touch sending it over the top. As before, Friedman proves time after time how That One Eyed Kid is capable of making meaningful musical and lyrical statements in a genre not renowned for either quality.
There is a smattering of atmospherics that helps “No Touching” go, but the majority of the performance is devoted to Friedman’s foray into the R&B/soul genre. His vocals are more than capable of handling the style’s demands and invest the lyrics with all the needed emotion and finesse. It makes for an interesting pairing with the EP’s last song “Rewind”. This is a surprisingly close-quarters, intense look into turbulent emotions and experiences. The orchestrated qualities of the arrangement serves the performance well – in the face of Friedman’s pained vocals and words, its steadiness and entertainment value provides some needed ballast. It’s scarcely possible to imagine Crash and Burn ending on a better note. That One Eyed Kid makes this work thanks to a combination of well honed melodic skills, taking the right risks, and a willingness to open a vein for his listeners.