The Josh Abbott Band celebrates life with their new album ‘Until My Voice Goes Out’ which was released this past Friday, August 18th. NECM was able to get an advance copy and we absolutely loved what we heard. The band continues to provide unique musical experiences. Their last album ‘Front Row Seat’ was divided into “acts” each representing a stage in a relationship. On the new album, there are a series of musical preludes, as well as an epilogue. For the first time in their 10+ year career, the band included horn and string sections. These extra layers fit naturally to complement their signature sound.
The first track on the album is an instrumental prelude titled ‘An Appreciation of Life.’ On this album more than ever, but throughout their career, JAB has had a knack for capturing the little moments in life on feel-good songs. Though the classical sounding strings on the prelude have a different sound, they very much fit and set the tone for the album to come. ‘An Appreciation of Life’ could very easily have been the album’s title.
The title track ‘Until My Voice Goes Out’ is a very smooth, happy song about one’s hopes for life: “I want you holding my hand lover and my best friend. I want you telling me I’m yours up until the whole thing ends.” While the song talks about singing, the same concept can be internalized by the listener to whatever their passions are.
‘Heartbeatin’’ is a fun song with a lot of picking giving it a sound that reminds me of their ‘Tuesday Night‘ EP. On ‘Heartbeatin’’ the horns serve as an awesome accent. On the next track, ‘Texas Women, Tennessee Whiskey’ the horns steal the show. Rob Mathes who has worked with Tony Bennett and Bruce Springsteen, among others, arranged the album. This song shows why he is the best in the business. Combined with creative songwriting, this funky song that’s more Memphis than Texas has the potential to be a huge hit. We love the lyrics: “When one does you wrong, the other does you right. There ain’t nothing about both of ’em I don’t like. Texas women and Tennessee whiskey, the only two things guaranteed to get me”
“When I think of happiness, innocence and truth and an almost perfect person, that’s when I think of you. Now when I say almost perfect, believe me I’m in awe, because my dear, the way I see it I’m your only flaw” opens ‘I’m Your Only Flaw,’ an honest love song that will have you saying “goals.”
After another instrumental prelude, this time banjo driven, comes ‘Girl Down in Texas’ which is the prototypical JAB song: pretty girl, Texas landmark shootouts, and abundant fiddle. The full string section keep it fresh, but this song is exactly what fans have come to know and love from the guys.
‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’ is a party song driven by a tenor sax line that will have you swaying and bobbing your head. The song tells a small part of a night of misadventures, be it bumping into an ex with her new man, or locking his keys in his truck, each one makes the narrator go “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.” The song is unique in that it doesn’t have a chorus other than the repeating motif of ‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.’ Lyrically this is a really cool concept. Between the horns and the easy to sing along lyrics, this song is one that I can see being an absolute blast live!
‘Kinda Missing You’ keeps the horns buzzin’! Though the banjo makes it distinct, it almost has that Toby Keith horn sound. The song isn’t about kind of missing someone (as in “sort of”) but rather describes the kinds (as in “types”) of missing going on. While it is a breakup song about a seemingly heartbroken person, the melody of the song drives home a sense of optimism that they’re gonna get over it and be alright.
Though sonically very different, ‘Heartbeat and a Melody’ is another lyrically devastated, musically optimistic breakup song. Losing your “heartbeat and melody” is such an amazing way to describe just being totally crushed. Without hearing it, the lyrics “I see you running and it seems so wrong, sounds like were singing different songs. Like you and me they can’t agree, leaves me here so solitary… without my heartbeat and a melody” might sounds quite emo, but the fiddle and banjo on the song are upbeat and give hope.
“Life is good, love is great, friends are here, the night is ours” proclaims ‘The Night Is Ours.’ The song just captures the feeling of those amazing nights with friends or family where you just get lost in conversation and fun and before you know it you look up and its hours later than you thought it was. This is something Josh Abbott Band has done so well throughout their career, capturing the little things in life and making them into songs, and ‘The Night is Ours’ is yet another example of this.
The album starts to wind down to a symbolic, slow, close with the ballad ‘Dance With You All Night Long.’ The song feels deeply personal and is so heartfelt listening to it you almost get the feeling that you are invading a personal moment. Putting it on the album obviously means it’s meant to be very public declaration of love, but credit to them for being willing to share something so intimate.
While listening to this album, I found I kept writing the same thing for every song: “puts a smile on your face.” Unfortunately, there is no fun to be had on the albums final two tracks, which are a bit of a package. Josh’s dad David suffered a stroke as the band was finishing up this album. ‘Until My Voice Goes Out’ was the last song David heard before passing away, Josh was able to get a copy of the song they had just, just recorded sent over to play for his father as he laid in the hospital. Josh really bears all on ‘Ain’t My Daddy’s Town.’ You can hear the pain in Josh’s voice as he sings, “This ain’t my daddy’s town no more, somebody’s gotta fill those boots he wore. I ain’t saying I’m the man he was, but it’s my turn to carry on what he loved.” The song is raw, emotional and clearly came from a real place. The album wraps up with an instrumental epilogue ‘Farewell Father.’
‘Until My Voice Goes Out’ is a great front-to-back album which encompasses the great moments and occasional sorrows of life. While there was tragedy in the loss of Josh’s father, there was also great joy in Josh’s life as his first child was born shortly after. Fans of Josh Abbott Band will love that they stayed true to their sound and songwriting styles, but also have made it fresh and new with the addition of the horns and strings. While their previous album ‘Front Row Seat’ was musically and lyrically very well done, Josh had to go through some dark times personally to get those songs. ‘Until My Voice Goes Out is equally, if not more, well written and produced, but you can tell that Josh is in a better place which is good to know, especially from such a relatable star.
The band will hit the road on the Until My Voice Goes Out Tour this fall. You can check out dates on their website. The guys said on Barstool Sports’ Young and Happy Podcast that they are bringing a 3 piece horn section and 2 strings players out on the road with them (on top of what is already a 7 piece band). It is sure to be an awesome live experience!
You can get a ‘Until My Voice Goes Out’ on iTunes or wherever you get your music this Friday, 8/18!