Brooke Josephson Releases New EPver-conceptualizing has been an increasingly negative issue for American pop music in the past half-decade, but if one artist is rejecting it right out of the gate, it’s Brooke Josephson in her new EP Showin’ Up. Showin’ Up has a lot of dimensions to it, starting with its fascinating blend of bluesy crooning and an alt-rock style physicality, but we never catch our singer getting lost in her aesthetical ambitions rather than focusing on the guts of a groove. Stompers like “Love Me Like a Man” and the title cut in this record give us a lot of momentum from behind the mic, and at its core, I think Josephson’s sophomore release could be considered one inspired more by the absence of live performances in 2020 and 2021 than anything else.
Because of the pandemic, most artists were sidelined from not only playing concerts but having access to their typical recording environment, and this singer/songwriter was among them. There are cultural influences from quarantine life in Showin’ Up’s namesake song as well as “Don’t Say,” but their greatest moments come in the form of artistic outbursts one normally expects from a live performance exclusively. It’s as if this player has been holding everything in and saving it for a grand release in these tracks, which is more inviting than some of the predictably smothered content some of Josephson’s peers in pop music have been making in recent times. Both musically and lyrically, this is a reflection of what we’ve collectively been through as families, individuals, and a society struggling with the future.
Another role player in this record is the Nashville backdrop against which Brooke Josephson made Showin’ Up, and while I can’t speak for everyone, I couldn’t listen to “Rainbow,” “The Lesson,” or “Love Me Like a Man” without thinking of the crossover alternative country music that has been making waves once more in the mainstream. I don’t think she’s trying to follow the trend, but she does have a rootsy tone to her voice that I would love for her to exploit a little more the next time she enters the recording studio. She sounds like she isn’t holding anything back from the audience in this EP, which isn’t the case for some of her well-hyped rivals.
Bold moves are made in the songs that comprise Showin’ Up, but as its title would suggest, Brooke Josephson shows herself to be on the spot where and when it matters to her fans in this record. She’s coming into her own in a way that some critics might not have anticipated coming off of a multi-year hiatus from recording, and I think a lot of the material she’s recorded for Showin’ Up wouldn’t have been tangible to her skillset when she debuted nearly a decade ago. Josephson is the perennial singer/songwriter with a band behind her in this EP, but what’s more is that she isn’t trying to live within the shadows of those who came before her – she wants to cast one of her own.
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