We reviewed Carbondale by Fiery Crash aka Josh Jackson at the beginning of the year. It was an impressive record that showcased his unique baritone voice and ability to write a song that is full of melancholy and emotion. His latest effort Practice Shots builds upon his strengths and is an improvement in all areas. A lot of the songs are surrounded with a beautiful melancholy but at the same there is a tremendous weight that is lifted with his delivery that provides solace. The songs feel more like observations rather than feeling like you're trapped in a depressing state. Despite being wrapped in melancholy a lot of the songs have this tinge of optimism or at least contentment that round out the listening experience.
The album starts off with “Cada Año.” It is a gorgeous song that revolves around Jackson’s voice as the guitars lay distant in the background. The music here is incredibly atmospheric and if it weren't for the drums it could be considered an ambient piece. Things just get better with the second song “Land Beneath The Shades.” The acoustic guitars are more prominent as his guitar picking is more than impressive. He doesn't slack in the vocal department either especially toward the end of the song where he repeats, “I wanted.” Everything coalesces together and you start to realize how good Jackson is. Possibly the best song on the album is “For The Canopy.” It’s a very simple song with acoustic guitars, shakers and his voice. The guitars parts lay upon each other with ease as he put down just the right amount of reverb that give off a sense of tranquility.
“You’re Turning From” feels a bit darker than some of the other songs and I think it may have been the drums. They almost sound like a beat you would hear from Massive Attack or Boards of Canada as they have a slight delay on them. The melody relies on one off chords that he strums at the beginning of each measure. He closes with “I was Tall” which is the longest and also the lightest song on the album. The guitar chords are upbeat and he even sings a couple of “la las.” In the middle of the song it fades to silence only to fade back in and then finally end.
I enjoyed almost every song on this album and the tunes are a testament to how much better Jackson is getting as a songwriter. The album solidifies his abilities and makes me wonder if he is just getting started.
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