Album Review – Josh Vincent’s ‘Small Town Stuff’

Josh Vincent

One of the side effects of the pop trends in country music in recent memory is the rise of copy cat artists willing to emulate the artists they hear on the radio, all in the hopes they can get rich and famous. But there’s another side effect that goes unnoticed by many. That side effect is inspiring independent artists to go in the opposite direction and churn out the best damn (real) country music they can make. Up and comer Josh Vincent would most certainly fit the latter description. On his site he says he has an agenda and that’s to make outlaw style country music. He received a guitar at an early from his father and has been playing it all his life, including during his career as a police officer. Now that’s he is retired from law enforcement, Vincent is now going after his dream to make country music. He makes his debut with his new EP Small Town Stuff.

The EP opens up with “Small Town Stuff,” a mid-tempo reflection on living the small town life. Vincent sings of the good like everyone knowing everybody and the bad like…everyone knowing everybody (which leads to gossip of course). It’s an accurate look at middle of America and the lives of the average person. Unlike small town songs you hear on the radio, this is grounded in reality. The production is good and catchy, although a bit quiet (understand though for an independent artist like Vincent). This is followed by “Hell Bent & Twisted.” Vincent sings of how his life was a mess before he met the love of his life. She took him in and made him a better person, a life worth singing about as the song says. It’s more on the rock side compared to the rest of the album, but mostly grounded in country. “So Much Shit” shows a more humorous side to Vincent, as he sings about discovering just how much shit he can buy on the Internet. He goes crazy buying stuff up left and right on the likes of Amazon and eBay. This is all fueled of course by a 30-pack of Keystone Light. He’s worried as hell when he goes to tell his wife that he spent all of their money, but finds out she has done the same. It’s a simple, yet fun and catchy song.

Vincent makes his feelings on pop country known on “We Ain’t (Pop) Country.” Now you know as well as I know that protest songs against mainstream country music have pretty much become as cliché as the themes they mock. However this song stood out to me from the other endless protest songs out there because of how Vincent makes a point of how people in middle America are no longer country. He sings of the real lives the everyday person experiences and how that’s just how it is for them. They don’t do it because it makes them country. Not to mention the song makes it a point of how mainstream country no longer relates and connect with the working person. And that makes this a pretty good protest song. Small Town Stuff closes with “Two Shots.” It’s about a man playing a poker game at a beer tavern and realizing he isn’t exactly being dealt a fair hand. So he gets up to leave, but the man at the door won’t let him leave unless he pays up. This leads to the man shooting his way out and heading out to Mexico to hide out. Eventually he decides to go back home to get his stuff only to find his wife in bed with another man. Once again he uses his gun out of anger and heads on back to Mexico. It should be noted of course the man is not proud of what he has done and knows he has to live with the murders he has committed. What I like about this song is not only how well it’s crafted, but reminds me a lot of the old songs of the outlaw era that dealt with serious situation like this (think Johnny Cash’s “I Shot a Man in Reno”). I would say it’s my favorite of the EP.

While Small Town Stuff is a little rough around the edges and isn’t the smoothest of listens, I think it demonstrates the potential that lies in Josh Vincent. With this really being the formal beginning of Vincent’s career, he’s only going to get better with more time and experience. He clearly knows the music he wants to make and I think with more seasoning as a songwriter could blossom into a pretty great artist. I especially enjoy how he mixes up the themes throughout the EP, giving a glimpse into both serious and less serious subjects. Small Town Stuff is a good start for Vincent and I think he’s an artist worth keeping an eye on.

Grade: 7/10

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3 thoughts on “Album Review – Josh Vincent’s ‘Small Town Stuff’

  1. Yeah, that score sounds about right for this EP.

    What I liked most about this first impression is the instrumentation, as well as willingness not to settle on a specific theme among any of the five songs. One central issue plaguing not just most radio country albums, but also a worrisome fraction of independent releases, is how narrow the scope of themes are and aren’t all that more diverse than their mainstream counterparts. It’s essentially 1) “I’m badass!” barnburners, 2) soft love songs and 3) songs about small town lifestyles but in a more generalized way. And not much else.

    I thought “So Much Shit” was especially refreshing to hear here and not being afraid to cite online shopping. Granted it’s a rather silly song, but it rings true to many of us including in more rural communities where I have extended family members who now buy their cloth and crafting supplies from Amazon. “Two Shots” is not exactly an original story premise, but seeing that we don’t get nearly as many outlaw story songs like we used to nowadays, this was still a welcome sight.

    I’m finding I have two main criticisms of this EP. One is that Vincent is not a very expressive singer here. I’m surely willing to cut him some slack seeing this is the first glimpses of his work and it is natural for countless vocalists to continue to develop as singers equally as much as songwriters and, thus, gain confidence and flavor. It’s just he tends to mumble some of his lyrics and gets stuck in a bland monotone too often.

    Secondly, some of the mixing sounds a bit too compressed and muddy. It makes some of the percussion tracks sound too overbearing and above the rest of the mix. At the very least you can hear the pedal steel and mandolin when they are present, but the loudness of the percussion and guitars just deprives these songs of some of their intimacy and don’t give the rest of the instrumentation enough room to breathe.

    *

    Still, a fairly solid EP and I’m definitely curious to see how he grows from here. My advice would be to seek out a better sound engineer and just continue to experiment as a vocalist.

    I’m thinking a Light to Decent 7 out of 10 for this.

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  2. “So Much Shit”. Right & exact. The guy can’t sing. The sound(-mixing) is…well…shit.
    …but there is a fiddle in the mix & he sings about “Small Town Stuff”. The real small town stuff. Not Justin Moore-small town stuff. Josh Vincent is so not-Nashville country & he is so independent. He can sing the songs he wants to sing. About Amazon & stuff…
    I don’t see or hear the “potential”. All i hear is an amateur singer. The songwriting is ok. 3/10.

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  3. It’s a first EP, but the vocals didn’t really do a whole lot for me. I appreciate that he isn’t trying to take himself to seriously.

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