In the second season of American Idol, way back in the spring of 2003, Josh Gracin came out of nowhere to become the show’s first real break-out country star. Signed to Lyric Street Records after that show, Josh immediately scored a string of Top 10 hits and eventually hit #1 with “Nothing To Lose” and scored a Gold album with his self-titled debut album. He experienced a sort of ‘sophomore slump’ when We Weren’t Crazy didn’t sell as well as the self-titled album did, but Josh did score a Top 10 hit in the title track and had three other tracks from the album hit the Top 40 at radio. That album also featured three co-writes from Josh. Moving on from that label, Josh has signed with the burgeoning indie label Average Joe’s Entertainment, the label co-founded by CMA Award nominee Colt Ford.
Working as co-producer with Kevin Murphy, Josh set out to make the best album of his career and with Redemption, he has done just that. While it’s clearly a mainstream country/pop album, Redemption finds an artist taking complete control of his career with his name appearing on every song on the record (save for a cover of John Mayer’s “Edge of Desire”). That means 15 songs here were either solely written by Josh himself or with co-writers like Brad Tursi, Loren Ellis,Shaun Balin, Kevin Murphy and Seana Arrechaga. His buddy from season 2, R&B/Gospel star Ruben Studdard has a co-write as well on “Catastrophe,” a smoldering slice of soulful music that could very well be a hit on the AC radio charts following the Top 20 success of “Long Way To Go” on that chart.
“Can’t Say Goodbye,” the song co-written with Arrechaga is a song from the Sears Heroes At Home contest and all of the sales from the digital single and a portion of the albums sales will go to the Heroes at Home fund which provides service to service members, veterans and their families (a cause which he can relate to as a veteran service member himself). It’s a special song and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the single get released to country radio at some point in early 2012. Another strong song, which stands out with "Can't Say Goodbye" and "Catastrophe" as the best songs on this disc, "My Life," really could be a huge hit as it has a relateable lyric and melody that recalls some classic Garth Brooks songs. Other potential singles off the album include “I Want To Make You Cry,” “Love You”Right,” and “Different Kind of Crazy.” I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a song like “Edge of Desire” get a release at some point as well as it’s a strong cover and shows how well John Mayer’s tunes work in country music as well as they do his brand of soulful rock/pop.
Fans of Josh’s past albums will certainly find much to like on Redemption and it is an album which finds Josh enterting an exciting new phase in his career, a career that may be eight years old but one that, in many ways, seems to be just getting started.