Josh Hyde – Into The Soul | Album Review

Josh Hyde – Into The Soul

JHR Records

11 songs – 36 minutes

John Hyde grew up in Louisiana, deeply influenced by blues, jazz and zydeco, and all that comes through loud and clear on this tasty, laid-back CD, which is most easily described as blues-funk.

This is the second full-length album produced by the Baton Rouge native. A silky smooth vocalist, guitarist and songwriter, he penned his first tune at age 11 and spent his teen years playing at Tabby Thomas’ legendary Blues Box, where he rubbed shoulders with the Neal family, Silas Hogan and Tabby himself.

He’s heavily influenced as a slide guitarist by Sonny Landreth, who made a guest appearance on Josh’s 2017 debut album, The Call Of The Night, which was rooted firmly in the sounds of his Cajun homeland.

Despite being a relatively young man in blues terms, Hyde’s an old soul. He prefers laying down his music on analog equipment, believing that it produces a sound that’s more “human and imperfect” than what you get on modern, digital recordings. He and producer Joe V. McMahan purchased a 24-track analog formerly used to record Robert Plant and captured Into The Soul direct to reel-to-reel tape, and the difference is noticeable even to the untrained ear.

Hyde penned all of the material here and handles guitar and vocals throughout. He’s backed by McMahan on guitar and virbraphone, Jimmy Wallace (Joe Walsh) on keys and Chris Lippincott on pedal steel with drummer Derrek Phillips (Seth Walker and Robben Ford) and bassist Ron Eoff holding down the bottom.

“Rocking Chair” swings from the jump atop a funky hook laid down by Wallace as Hyde urges a lady to join him for a ride in the vehicle of the title, noting that he doesn’t have money to buy her diamonds, but assures her he can show her one good time. “Smile,” a medium-fast shuffle, puts an upbeat spin on telling his woman he’s getting ready to leave. Hyde’s guitar runs are brief, but tasty.

Despite the separation, however, Josh apparently still has feelings, as exhibited in the tender ballad “For You I Ache.” The emotions continue in “Lover’s Curse,” a jazzy, stop-time shuffle, but take a positive turn in “The Edge Of Love,” a Cajun accented rocker that uses what only can be described as nursery rhyme lyrics to proclaim the singer’s on the verge of another romance.

It’s back to regret, however, for “Can’t Let Go,” in which Hyde reexamines past mistakes after crossing paths with his ex in a store. The heartbreak continues with “The Key,” which first finds a tearful Josh having just seen his lady for what was the final time and still hopeful that love can bring them back together again, and then, years later, shedding more tears because of their reunion.

“Down On Bourbon Street” follows. It’s a sweet remembrance of his first encounter with a blue-eyed beauty and the tender affair that followed. The scene shifts to Baton Rouge in “All You Need Is Soul.” Hyde refers to it as “catfish town” as he describes Hogan and the sounds of blues, Dixieland and jazz emanating from every side street corners. Another look at love – in this case, part heaven and part hell – follows in “Call My Name” before the album comes to a close with the ballad “Reasons Why” and Hyde wondering why his lady said goodbye.

Fear not, however, the upbeat arrangements on this one more than compensate for the pain contained in the lyrics. Available from most major retailers, Into The Soul is rock-solid contemporary music from an artist worth watching.

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