Josh Harty’s music brings with it an air of authenticity that transcends all those who are content to simply embrace their rustic accoutrements while attempting to strum out a song. A third generation musician and son of a police chief and preacher in his native Nebraska, he grew up singing gospel and country western music with his dad. A request for original music from a local booking agent inspired him to start writing his own songs, a process that resulted in his first album Three Days Notice nearly a decade ago. Since then he’s released three more albums to date and a pair of collaborations (with John Statz and Blake Thomas, respectively), and won the kind of kudos reserved for those who seem to be on a fast track to fortune and fame.
Whether Holding On gets him there or not is a matter of conjecture, but if skill and savvy have anything to do with that process, then it’s a good bet he’ll be eyeing that destination soon. The songs that grace this new album are rugged, resolute and compelling, Harty’s dusty vocals sounding not unlike Gordon Lightfoot in his role of a troubled troubadour. Certain songs — “Holding On,” “The Kind,” “Learn To Fight” and “Running” chief among them — carry an unmistakable air of urgency, their ringing melodies, drive and deliberation sounding like Americana anthems reflecting a restless spirit of intensity and intrigue. He draws from the standard regimen — guitars, keyboards, mandolin, the occasional banjo and fiddle — but his methods are instilled with s sense of gravitas and absolute authority, the kind that beg attention simply due to a stirring sound.
In a sense, Holding On is a declaration of intent, the work of a true son of the heartland whose bold defiance and riveting delivery channel the essence of American music through verve and resolve. Harty is clearly doing more than merely holding on. He’s moving forward with confidence and determination and succeeding at every step.