Joshua Lee: Promise Land
Hope is a tough thing to hold onto sometimes. With yet another rainstorm hitting the Ohio Valley leaving many areas flooded accompanied by a seemingly endless cold, many people (including myself) have found it more difficult to anticipate the warmth of spring. Yet, I say this not to discourage anyone from hoping in a brighter future but to help you understand that hope will no doubt work best under the pressures of discomfort and resistance and should be held onto, all the more tightly. I feel that it is in this same spirit that solo artist; Joshua Lee constructs his latest EP ‘Promise Land’ to reflect on his own personal journey of enduring and cautious hope.
Currently residing in Marietta, Josh got his first big break when he moved out to study music in Nashville for college. “I played in several bands, and backed up a bunch of different solo artists.” Joshua explained to me in an interview, “The last serious touring I did was as a guitarist for a country artist named Randy Montana”. From there, Josh recalls that soon “the heavy touring with that band started to fizzle out, though. Not long after, my wife and I had our first son and I was having a harder and harder time being away from the family, and was really burned out”. So when a job opportunity presented itself to the young family, they headed north: first to Wheeling and then to Marietta, but not without leaving behind an aspect of Josh’s identity, a loss that will later influence his personal music. “It was a really, really tough year after leaving my best friends, my family who were now in Nashville, and the only career I'd ever known. After a while I just couldn't help but write songs and play again, I guess as a way to process all the change, and cope with it all”.
‘Promise Land’ not only touches on the wrestle of loss and choice, but does so through a beautifully layered folk rock sound. In his EP, Joshua Lee orchestrates smooth electric guitar riffs paired well with his low toned vocals and acoustic strumming, aided by the occasional slide guitar he creates an extremely rich and warming album that is reminiscent of summer nights. In terms of lyrics, Joshua claims, “I didn't set out to write about anything in particular, it was just a byproduct of writing personally and honestly. Even the songs that are stories involving made up characters are rooted in some personal reality.” Songs like ‘Drift’ or the title track, ‘Promise Land’ fit this reality well as they both relay separate stories of a struggling relationship, one dealing with traveling towards the unknown together while the other confronts the animosity between a couple.
Despite the heavier themes in his songs, Joshua Lee portrays an album and a project that is in his words “hesitantly hopeful”. To him, this came through a number of realizations, “I was coming to terms with the loss of the faith I grew up with. It all led to a serious battle with depression. I'm still not totally through it, and maybe I never will be, but I guess that brings me to the hope. I was raised in the Evangelical church. No matter how my understanding of the world changes as I get older, I have never been able to shake the clinging to hope I learned through the stories of the church…that image of rebirth, resurrection, spring being just around the corner; it's just a belief that I can't let go of. I can't imagine a way to face dark times without the promise of hope, no matter how small.”
It is in that same spirit that I introduce a phenomenal artist into our local music scene, to promote and usher in hope, creativity, and eventually warmer weather. Make sure to see him this Friday night at the Marietta Brewing Company starting at 6PM