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Album Review: “We Weren’t Crazy” by Josh Gracin

April 3, 2008

We Weren't Crazy

American Idol’s original country star finally returns with his much anticipated sophomore release that has gone through so many title changes it’s not even funny. The cool thing about this album is that it does contain the three songs that Lyric Street released in an attempt to launch the album, so no fan goes unhappy. However it is difficult at first to listen to this album without the feel of a compilation because it was prolonged so long. Get past that and it’s decent, not great, but decent.

The album contains three songs written by Josh and every track has a feel of experience and sincerity that has come with Josh’s musical maturing and growth. The opening track is “Found”which contains all the power and pop/country sound that Josh is known for. Although the song is partially a romantic song, it also does justice to Josh as a growing artist. The lyrics can also be relevant to how Gracin was found as an artist and how he has found where he wants to spend the rest of his life, with his fans in the music business.

This personal relevance is continued in the third single from the album and it’s title track “We Weren’t Crazy”. Josh’s vocal performance works quite well with the instrumental arrangement and expresses a sense of sincerity and enjoyment as if Josh actually is reminiscing on his younger days the entire song. The beauty of it is that Josh wrote the tune about his younger life and the crossroads him and his wife faced on the way to their current life. The song is not only a righteous dedication to their success as a couple, but to Josh’s success as an artist as well. It’s very well written and gives Josh the opportunity to show what he can do with a pen and the result is a song that seems to have many personal references to him.

What weakens this album is that the entire album doesn’t contain that personal power that makes Josh’s own work seem so relevant and appropriate. “Invisible”is more of a pop composition than a country hit. Its a nice message and a unique one that is relevant to Josh’s love for his wife, but it doesn’t have that personal feeling that makes Josh’s vocals really stand out. Of course a song about wanting to be invisible just to see the secret and beautiful things that one’s girl does behind the scenes also seems a little creepy, but Josh’s vocals don’t miss a beat, they just lack that personal and significant feeling.

“Let Me Fall”brings Josh back to his own songwriting territory and for the first time he brings in his falsetto vocals into the picture which works beautifully with the power and emotion of the song. The lyrics have a man explaining to his leaving girlfriend that he will be ok but in reality he can’t help but need a way to cure his broken heart. The conflict in the song is well organized and progresses quite well into a man’s struggle to eliminate the memory of an unreliable love while still struggling with the issue of longing for that love she gave him. This is Josh at his best, the song just brings you right in and hold you right to the end with powerful and sincere vocal expression that coincides perfectly with the background music and the lyrics.

 Now comes another conflict, “I Don’t Want To Live”. This song is like a rock on a beach, it stands out because it doesn’t belong. The hilarious thing is Chris Cagle did this same song on his new album as well, but Josh’s version contains much more power and truth than Cagle’s version. Still the song is a filler and spoil what had been a consistent arrangement up to this point. It is very forgettable and doesn’t seem to relate to Josh at all personally, although his newly grown talent allows him to approach it with a slightly believable performance. This same issue occurs later in “Sweet September”. However not only does this song seem to be very forgettable and out of place, it is also very underdone for Josh. it’s way to simple and underdone vocally and slightly over-performed instrumentally.

“Favorite State Of Mind” shows one of Josh’s most impressive and unique abilities. It allows him to revisit his speedy vocals and very impressive breath control in the original first single this long awaited project. This love vacation anthem is a fun and enjoyable tune that will leave it listeners breathless even if they don’t try to keep up with Josh’s impressive performance. It’s not much for range expression, but its not meant to be. It allows Josh to show off a little which is cool.

The next song, “Telluride”, is very original because it is centered around a small town and ski resort by the same name. Its cool to here Josh singing about some place new other than a barn or typical country setting for love to take place. The song is done quite well and is very enjoyable. It’s probably one of the most attractive songs on the album. It is on the border of country and expresses a more pop-centered personality in Josh, but it sounds good. The same issue is relevant though, its just an impressive performance. Josh lacks that powerful and effective performance that makes his voice really shine and stand out.

The second single from the album, “I Keep Coming Back”, does contain that personal power, not as relevant as the title track but still good enough. The song is about a man attempting to leave his hometown and see the world, but he just keeps ending up back there. Basically its a song about how the past will always be a part of your life. Josh, respectably, relates to this song because he lives it every day. You can feel in his performance a real relation between Josh and the lyrics. There is just something there, but while that is true there is always something to be desired. In some places the emotion sounds slightly forced and over-expressed.

At his request Josh began the album with a song about finding his place and draws it to a close with “Livin’ It Up” which carries the typical message of enjoying life while you can and making ever minute count. A little rock is added into this one for a nice touch, but it almost overpowers Josh a little bit. Again he lacks that sincere feeling that seems to come with his own work, and his voice, for the first time, is a little over powered and the production seems a little awkward at certain points which makes this song a little annoying for multiple listens. Finally Josh closes with is one a only solo writing job, “Unbelievable (Ann Marie)”. As the title states this song is written for an about his wife and his connection to her. As I have made quite clear, Josh comes out his best with his own work, as many artists do, and this is the best example. Simple instrumental arrangements combine quite well with Josh’s vocal performance and every word rings sincere and powerful, as expected for his own work.

I’m not one usually to criticize an artist for not doing his own works, however despite Josh’s growth as an artist he continuously shines the most on his own work. Had he not written his own work for some of this album is would have been unidentifiable. Josh just sounds better when he relates to what he is singing and there is no better way to pull that off than by writing. Where this album fails is that Josh has not matured quite enough yet to be able to put that same power and sincerity into the works of others. Its a decent, entertaining listen once you get past that issue, but it still takes away from the believability of most of the album.

 

 3.5 Stars

 

produced by Marty Williams (tracks 1,5,6,8,9) and Brett James (tracks 2,3,4,7,10,11)

Associate producer to Brett James, Luke Wooten

Tracks:

  1. Found
  2. We Weren’t Crazy
  3. Invisible
  4. Let Me Fall
  5. I Don’t Want To Live
  6. Favorite State Of Mind
  7. Telluride
  8. I Keep Coming Back
  9. Sweet September
  10. Livin’ It Up
  11. Unbelievable (Ann Marie)
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8 Comments leave one →
  1. Leeann permalink
    April 3, 2008 4:26 am

    Nice thorough review of this album. I’ve only heard this album once on XM Radio’s Short Cuts show. So, I can’t make very valid judgments on it yet. I will say, though, that I like Tim McGraw’s version of “Telluride” much better than Josh’s. I guess I just think Tim’s voice meshed better with its production. It’s funny that you mention that you like Josh’s version of “I Don’t Wanna Live” is better than Cagle’s. On the xm show, Josh mentioned that Brett James, his main producer, is the one who wrote that song. So, I suspect that Brett may have had a hand in the better, all around, performance of the song?

  2. Kent permalink
    April 3, 2008 11:17 pm

    I agree, nice thorough review! I was hoping someone would review it soon!

    I’ve been waiting for this album for quite a long time, and unfortunately, I had started to move on with my music life. But that’s not to say I wasn’t still excited for this.

    Favorite State of Mind truly is a fun, enjoyable song. I Keep Coming Back wasn’t quite as impressive to me, but I still love it. I was already deep in love with We Weren’t Crazy before the album came out, and the release of the album has only made that love stronger. It may not be the strongest song lyrically, but it certainly isn’t bad. Plus, the bridge of the song really adds to it.

    I was most excited for Let Me Fall, as I had heard an an astounding acoustic version of the song a number of times. The lyrics, like We Weren’t Crazy, aren’t spectacular, but aren’t bad, but it’s emotional vocals reminded me of Sugarland’s Stay. So I was very impressed to hear the recorded version of the song. The range of his vocals on this song makes every other song on the album pale in comparison, and the falsettos are very pleasant. I thought the production was a little awkward at times, but I am used to an acoustic version after all.

    Invisible is very unique and interesting. It is probably the best song lyrically for me, but his vocals don’t have as much of a range as I would like. Pleasant overall. Unbelievable is sincere and emotional, but the lyrics aren’t impressive. I was excited for Sweet September, but I agree that it is underdone.

  3. Jordan Stacey permalink
    April 5, 2008 12:14 am

    I was only able to give it two out of five, I am dissapointed in the final product. Considering it took so long to get here I was expecting more.

  4. Dennis permalink
    July 8, 2008 9:13 pm

    How is “Telluride” an original song when Tim McGraw released it years ago?

  5. cowboybleau permalink*
    July 9, 2008 2:38 am

    I don’t mean original as in Josh Gracin’s own work, I meant original as in different. Usually songs like that surround country areas like Texas, but this one actually takes place in the bluegrass town famous for snowy slopes. That’s what’s so original about it.

  6. Mike permalink
    March 11, 2009 12:46 pm

    Sorry, guys, I have to rate it higher…5 out of 5 stars from me. This recording is near perfection for me. I can’t get enough of it. The more I hear it, the more I want to hear it again. It’s THAT good! I never get tired of it. I’ve been listening to it consistently for many months. The production work is superb. I love the way it sounds. Every song is good and memorable with the potential for hit status. I’d say that’s some pretty significant stuff for a guy who came out of “American Idol” in fourth place for the season and this is only his sophomore effort. He’s definitely on the right track for winning me over as a lifelong fan. Any recording that sounds this good on every track is a milestone recording to me. Josh…you did good and deserve the credit. I repeat…5 out of 5 stars!!!

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