Josh Haskins – J Walkin’ (Independent)
Josh Haskins artistic aspirations were nurtured and nourished in his hometown of Richmond, Virginia, where he pursued a variety of artistic ventures, including music (he fronted local punk band YouthFuse), cinematography and stage acting. It was the latter where he first made a mark, winning several awards and eventually earning a place on a summer residency at the Governor’s School for Performing Arts in Richmond. It was during that summer that Haskins first began to take an interest in political and protest songs and the craft of the singer-songwriter.
He’d always enjoyed folk and bluegrass music, but it was the discovery of Woody Guthrie that led to the realization that the passion and direct approach of punk could be fashioned within a folk music setting, implemented simply with just unamplified instrumentation and vocals. “J Walkin’” is Haskins’ debut album, a twelve track collection that fulfils all his objectives. He’s an accomplished songwriter with a voice that harks back to earlier times, and it perfectly compliments his words. Furthermore, although it’s evocative of the post-war, pre-rock ‘n’ roll, acoustic style that Guthrie helped formulate, it’s also contemporary, insofar as his themes are current and his style is timeless. It’s worth remembering that young men with acoustic guitars will always be relevant.
Titles such as “Hello Darlin' Tennessee”, “Bosher's Dam” and “Talkin' J Walkin' Blues” offer further clues to Haskins’ sound, but by far the best option is to listen to a few soundclips and make up your own mind. If any of the above has piqued your interest, I think you’ll enjoy what you hear.