CD REVIEW: Josh Rifkin - Guest House
By: Cyrus Rhodes
"full of life, joy & hope for all humanity"
I INDIE MUSIC DIGEST:-
Artist: Josh Rifkin
Label: Independent Artist
Genre: Easy Listening, Pop-Rock, R&B
Sounds Like: Elton John, Leon Russell, Rufus Wainwright.
Technical Grade: 10/10
Weakness: Vocal Delivery
Singer, songwriter, Josh Rifkin releases his debut album entitled "Guest House" in 2010. You may recall Rifkin whose previous band Mumblin Joe based out of San Francisco was signed to Island Records. Most recently Rifkin as relocated to Los Angeles & has written music featured in Film & Television productions. Needless to say Rifkin is no stranger to the music business.
The CD kicks things off with “Save the Day” a gentle flowing intro piece that serves up soothing piano accents against well placed strings, driving jazz/rock rhythms & melodic chorus from Rifkin. Track 2 “No Choice” shifts gears a bit with its driving rock rhythm, upbeat subject matter & well placed vocal & harmonies from Rifkin & company. Track 3 “My Whole Life Through” serves up a passionate musical groove, with impressive piano accents, against a solid low end groove that peaks & valleys its way through fruition. As the CD slowly unfolds I can hear many different musical textures reminiscent of classic Elton John, Randy Newman, Barry Manilow, Van Morrison, & even Rufus Wainwright. Fans of pop music with a late 70’s aftertaste will thoroughly enjoy this CD. As the CD slowly unfolds you will notice most of the songs are very conservative in nature, with lush layers of musical instrumentation layered everywhere. I would classify this music as acoustical vocal jazz-pop that goes down smooth, & fills the sonic space with peaceful tranquility. The musicianship provides a lot of musical variety, & make no bones about it - this band is as good as it gets. You will also notice brief splashes of percussion, horn sections, pedal steel guitar, Hammond Organ chops, & sizzling guitar solos & piano accents along the way. All in all the CD has some truly impressive musical moments on it, showcasing impressive lyrical content displaying priceless conventional wisdom, & world class musicianship to boot. Rifkin’s vocal style is hard to pigeonhole, but his passionate baritone works within this catalogue. It is soothing, & infectious to the ears, & if I had to compare it to anyone it would be a cross between Bob Dylan & Michael Hutchence (INXS). Equally as impressive is the fact the Rifkin wrote all this material. All songs are short & sweet musical experiences, each one possessing a distinct musical personality & signature groove. From upbeat ”Does it have to be a Love Song”, Taking you Home Tonight” & “If I Believed” to grooving “ Kate” to pieces with rockabilly flair “If I Had” & “Tonight I’m Yours, to songs with gospel appeal “When will I be Wise” this CD has something for just about everyone. It’s definitely a fully loaded musical production from start to finish with superb musicianship, amazing lyrical content, & rich conventional wisdom sung to us from a deeply honest perspective that is 100% pure & genuine.
Although Rifkin’s baritone works, it’s fair to say it’s nothing that will stop you dead in your tracks. Eventually you come to a place where you just roll with it. I might add Rifkin does a good job compensating in other areas, with many other strengths. Like the aforementioned Rifkin’s band & songwriting craft are truly world class, but his voice lacks true honey coated luster, & is very sluggish in its overall delivery.
“Guest House” by Josh Rifkin is an impressive musical production from start to finish. The music is clean, goes down smooth, & the messages are passionate & sung from a deeply honest perspective. Like the aforementioned fans of music with a late 70’s pop aftertaste will love this catalogue. It’s strong suit – the solid consistency & musical warmth that is of Josh Rifkin. He possesses enough musical talent & songwriting prowess to be extremely dangerous. There isn’t really a weak song anywhere on this entire CD. Josh Rifkin clearly shows why he’s been successful during the course of his musical career. His writing is first rate, his songs are catchy & clever, but most of all his music delivers a message that is full of life, joy, & hope for all humanity
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