Until last year I had never heard the name Josh Garrels. That is not to say Garrels is a new artist to the scene; a singer-songwriter, hip-hop producer, and orchestral folk composer from South Bend, Indiana he has released six studio albums since 2002. His latest offering “Love & War and the Sea in Between” is a fan-funded masterpiece blending folk, indie, and hip hop with thought-provoking Christian themes. I’m always impressed when an artist can get across deep philosophical, or Christian perspectives, without using the same, tired metaphors found in most contemporary Christian music.
I’ve heard a lot of music in my 31 years of life. For that reason, it’s hard to impress me. Not every album grabs me the way “Bring Me Your Love” by City and Color, “In Transit” by Jack’s Mannequin, or Cartel’s self-titled CD “Love & War” does. With effortless precision, Garrels wraps his listener in a blanket of melody and allows them to lose themselves for a moment of bliss. Whether it’s the soulful falsetto of “White Owl,” the atmospheric jam “A Far Of Hope,” the hip hop inspired “Resistance,” the haunting “Slip Away” or folk anthem “For You,” Garrel’s latest album has been a beautiful soundtrack to the past six months of life. Sure, I could go on a jog and listen to the beautiful sounds of nature or… I could listen to “Love & War.” For better or for worse, that battle was over before it began.
Farther along we’ll know all about it
Farther along we’ll understand why
Cheer up my brothers, live in the sunshine
We’ll understand this, all by and by “Farther Along” – Josh Garrels
Though I often find myself listening to “White Owl” or “Resistance” before other tracks this speaks more to the quality of these two tracks than it does to the lack of quality in others. I have not heard a track on this album that I dislike. The production rides a fine line between polished digital and analog bliss that is lost on most contemporary over-produced albums.
What impresses me about this album is the purposeful blend of such eclectic styles as folk and hip hop. This is not a new blend; artists like Uncle Cracker, Everlast and Mat Kearney have done this before. However, I submit to you that, in my opinion, Garrels does it better. If you’re looking for a new folk offering from a talented artist this is the album for you. So just do yourself a favor, and pick it up.