The name of the song: "Stand Your Ground"; the singer's tone: not nearly as defiant or aggressive as its title implies.
Yes, like many of the tracks on Joshua Hyslop's new LP, Echos, "Stand Your Ground" is gently sung and strummed. Then there's the opening track "Say It Again," which features lyrics like "Say it again/ to my face" that could read like a demand, though Hyslop sings them in a mellow, breezy tone. Indeed the Saskatoon-born, Vancouver-based songsmith's ever-earnest delivery and the album's overall varnished production give the proceedings a widely accessible, easy listening sheen. Despite a few brawny lyrics and song titles, there are no Tom Petty-esque "I Won't Back Down" anthems on Echos, by any stretch.
Fans won't be surprised, of course; Hyslop already sang lyrics like "I curse your name," in an equally cushy tone on his preceding album, 2016's In Deepest Blue. Despite that, Hyslop shouldn't be dismissed as an artist striving for the notoriously bland adult contemporary charts, even though his soft touch might initially give naysayers that impression. Instead the rusty, alluringly textured harmonica solo on Echos' highlight "Long Way Down," the lyrical allusion to famed poet Dylan Thomas on subsequent track "Into the Dark," and the Celtic lilt in every high note that he hits all prove Hyslop to be a layered, singular talent who rewards careful, repeated listening.
The combination of subtle flourishes with an overall easy listening tone has certainly helped the burgeoning singer songwriter already garner 65 million streams worldwide with In Deepest Blue and his 2012 debut Where the Mountain Meets the Valley. And now, with the ever-soothing yet subtly dynamic Echos, Hyslop is poised for even greater success. (Nettwerk)