A One Listen Album Review
Joshva and Tron’s album New Life just came out last week. Consisting of 11 tracks, no features, and clean concise cover art, I was interested in giving it a listen. I don’t know much about these artists, I had seen Joshva’s “Champion Flow” video but other than that I just know I’m always licking my chops for some new music to bump.
Track One is an emotional intro to set up the album. “New Life” has an easy piano sample loop, it’s a ballad with horns layered in later. Joshva busts a flow over the top and finishes with the line “You offer new life” then a choir lays in. The sequence of these layers and the payoff here gave me chills.
Track 2 “Living Proof” has some nasty strings, trombones, and great use of samples throughout, but I found it to be a dud of a song. With the huge payoff of the first track, the handoff to this one doesn’t work well. This song is anthemic, and while we’re dealing with some talented emcees, this song lacks content. I’ll refer to it as a 4-11 song, where the artists recite 4 words 11 times. I really dig this beat, and maybe this track would have worked for me in a different place, but we’re in trouble if the slump begins on the second track.
“Murder She Wrote” — Okay never mind. This song has a great vibe, and the beat makes me miss my Olds Cutlass. There’s a smooth piano loop here that gives ample room to give for the lyrical display. I’m learning that Joshva & Tron have a repetitive writing style, but this song works far better for me than the previous track. This beat is nice, and the last verse is blazing.
Track 4 is entitled “Hercules,” and it’s another repetitive track. The intro to this song was longer, but once the bass drops we’re good. Tron and Josh throw verses back and forth on this one, playing off each other. Topically they’re talking about staying strong when facing temptation, giving up your past, putting aside your mistakes. Other than that second track, I find the content on these tracks to be quite dense, and these easy hooks give you some room to marinate on the concepts just before you’re hit with more dopeness.
A Drop In Emotion
Day Day Day has a West Coast vibe on it. While I’ve got it Below The Bar, it’s not painful. These two work together so well. There’s something new for the listener around every corner, keeping a little momentum throughout. A carpe diem type song, a motivational track to live life to the fullest. For some reason, where this song was placed and how it moves into the next track I lost some emotional attachment to the music here.
“Trying to cut loose tonight/Cuz I don’t know who we finna lose tonight.”
Right away after some energy is lost on that last track, Joshva is back spitting at a high level at the top of “Find A Way”, bringing this song back up to the bar. This beat has layers upon layers and is mixed very well. This song is about finding your purpose. “It’s all about the grind not about the trophy.” The song comes to an end with a pastor speaking about finding your way.
“You are God’s child, He designed you to perform a particular function in your life. I can be uniquely like I am and make a significant contribution, but oh God help me figure out what that contribution is.”
“Tick Tock” and “Ride Or Die” are well done tracks with melodic, sing-a-long spots in them. The former song has a southern feel to it, even some of the content has that floss-it-up style. The latter track, with Tron’s strong performance for the hook and first verse, has a modern sound and is a love song. At the end of “Ride Or Die” once again Joshva shows his incredible talent on the mic.
The next two tracks are quick freestyle-ish tracks. This makes me think they had some songs that weren’t fully fleshed out but they thought these verses were fire. These two songs make the end of this project feel like a mixtape. I’m am not sure if I vibe with the direction they took here.
We close out this surprising album with the song “Crown.” It’s a laid back West Coast beat with a clean electric guitar riff and big bass. Joshva is reminiscing over the solid instrumentation. A bit of storytelling, and a strong end to a promising work.
To conclude, this album needs a lot more looks. When it comes to exposure, Joshva and Tron might be stuck underneath a metaphorical porch for the time being. I’d say it’s time for them to go and run with the big dogs. There was a lot to like about this album. All of Joshva’s flows were above the bar and on fire. Tron’s vocals were complimentary to the music beds that were laid and even enhanced Joshva’s performance at times. On the other hand, some of the fluidity between tracks didn’t make sense to me, and there was momentum that was killed a couple times by song placement choices. I also would hesitate to say that they have an original sound, but I can’t say they don’t pull it off incredibly well. With all of these things in consideration, I still give this album a rating of At The Bar.
Rating: At The Bar