The debut album, April 14th, 2005, by Joshua Gagne showcases only a scintilla of the talent this young man has. The title itself is fitting for the eleven track LP, for which the then twenty-two year old North Dakota native wrote, performed and recorded himself. The title puts a date for which the songs were created, and gives listeners a glimpse into his life, or least his life, thoughts and feelings at the moment of its creation. However, in contrast, many of the songs are timeless in content, with lyrical subjects varying from lost love (“Put Your arms Around Me” and “Recreate the Past”) to depression and suicide (“Bucket” and “Grandma”), and restless hometown blues (“Travelin’ on my Mind”); subjects for which many can relate.
“Bucket” perhaps contains his most potent lyrics: “Standing on a bucket in the cellar /waiting for the pines to break /the noose is tight and getting tighter/ and my feet have begun to shake.” However it also shows how well thought out this suicide is in his thinking of others, “I could use a shot gun or maybe even a knife/ I don’t want to be messy /that just wouldn’t be nice.” He also thinks of the retributions of suicide in the lyrics “it might be considered a sin” and “hope it works well, if it does, expect some letter postmarked from hell.” Such well thought out lyrics as the above, exhibit Gagne’s lyrical talent.
The songs which work the best for Joshua Gagne are those that are honest and not so contrived, for in those songs his true vocals come forth. It’s difficult for young singer/song-writers to find their own voice and keep their influences to a minimum, although Bob Dylan did find fame and fortune in mimicking Woody Guthrie’s style.
However, the songs for which the vocals are the strongest are those which Gagne does not attempt to make his voice raspy and whiskey soaked as he does in such songs as “Book on Life” and “Someone to Listen.” These songs seem to be his weakest. Songs like “Pass me By,” “Put Your Arms Around Me” and “Recreate the Past” are simple and his vocals are honest and true, thus creating much more effective songs.
Joshua Gagne is a man of obvious talent. He sings in the third track, “I just want someone to listen;” and I foresee more and more will as he continues writing, singing, and unearthing his own style. ~Jillian Scheeler
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