Steal This Track from Josh Dillard and The Streaks of LightningBy Josh Johnson | June 4th, 2014 | 1 Comment »
Ever wonder what people saw in ’70s singer-songwriters like James Taylor? Denver’s Josh Dillard may be able to help you understand. Steal “Let ‘Em Fall” now!
On his 2013 release, “The Bright Light of Shipwreck,” Josh Dillard’s voice recalls ’70s singer-songwriters like Van Morrison, Jackson Browne, Randy Newman, Loudon Wainwright III and James Taylor. This is a list of artists that today’s too-cool music fans would ridicule, if they even had the consideration to do that. Mostly, these are musicians simply ignored by music fans under 40. They were contemporary for a generation that are now grandparents, and their music never broadly connected with the kids and grand-kids. Yes, James Taylor is grandparents’ music, and who wants to listen to grandparents’ music?
Their voices, however, are undeniably extraordinary and distinct, and the lack of cultural reverence they receive from today’s music fans is mostly our problem, not theirs. They were singer-songwriters that took the “singer” part as seriously as the “songwriter” and wrote music that showcased their soulful voices with poetic, earnest lyrics nesting powerful emotional connections. Josh Dillard deserves membership in this canon.
If younger music fans today want to understand why their grandparents thought Van Morrison and James Taylor were cool, important musicians, they can access that through Josh Dillard, who now performs with his band The Streaks of Lightning.
Now, to be clear, drawing a connection between Dillard and the ’70s singer-songwriter greats is not to imply that he is a revivalist. Alongside artists like Devendra Banhart and Edward Sharpe, he is entirely contemporary, not nostalgic, in a lineage with the ’70s artists, but not playing their music. Perhaps if Jackson Browne were an emerging artist today, he would sound a lot like Dillard.
Dillard released “The Bright Light of Shipwreck” last year, and it made year-end “Best of” lists in Colorado. It deserves this attention, but it also deserves more broad attention. The album has a sense of timelessness, yet it’s refreshingly creative. The melodies are memorable, the lyrics have a simple profundity, the arrangements are perfect, and his voice is so damn distinct while also comfortably familiar.
On June 11, Josh Dillard & The Streaks of Lightning will perform at Larimer Lounge with Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires. Below, download “Let ‘Em Fall,” then buy the whole album on Dillard’s website. Maybe buy a copy for grandma and ask her about when Van Morrison was cool as shit.
Please note that downloads offered via Steal This Track are intended to whet your appetite, and are NOT CD-quality recordings. If you want those, please support the artists by buying their music and/or seeing them live.
If you’re a band or musician ready to expose your fresh sounds to the readers of Reverb, email your tracks — along with any interesting facts about them, as well as a photo or album art — to Steal This Track for consideration.
Josh Johnson is a Denver freelance writer and Reverb contributor. He’s also a journeyman butcher. Seriously.