Canada born and bred, Josh Taerk cites Bruce Springsteen and Jackson Browne among his influences, and has even received praise from a member of Springsteen’s legendary E-street band- no mean feat for someone who’s just releasing his debut album. More easily likened to Bublé than Browne however, there’s clear evidence of a potential for massive commercial success in Josh, even if it does come through something of a generic sound. Overall Taerk’s music can be defined as folk-rock with some pop influenced undertones, but while aesthetically pleasing, much of his latest offering verges on the insipid.
Taerk certainly doesn’t shy away from revealing his personality in Josh, and one really gets the sense that the album’s lyrics are a reflection on his own experiences. There’s an overwhelming optimism and sense of empowerment throughout, as Taerk chants such phrases as, ‘life’s about how you see yourself’ in Start Again, and ‘try and stay alive through these harder times’ in Smell The Roses. Naturally, love is discussed, as Taerk, a self-described ‘hopeless romantic’, recalls involvements with women in both Casie and Grace – two tracks that sound remarkably similar. On the whole, Taerk’s candid approach to songwriting is appealing in that it gives Josh an interesting dimension, but various tracks are almost sickly sweet due to the amount of clichés (see: ‘I’m hopelessly in love with you’), compromising my opinion on their authenticity.
Melody-wise, numerous tracks are incredibly catchy and Taerk exercises a confident command of instrumentation (aided by his producer, Terry Brown, who’s worked with the likes of Cutting Crew) using guitar and percussion that complement his vocals immaculately. There are acoustic and electric elements to Josh, but the same, laid-back vibe is sustained throughout, and as an album it flows well (if a little too well- at times there is little to differentiate between songs.) However, neither his soothing vocals, nor the memorable riffs weaved into tracks like I’ll Live For You suffice in making Josh particularly noteworthy. This will, I’m sure, improve as he becomes more advanced as a musician, but currently, there’s not much that’s especially exciting or innovative in Josh Taerk’s music.