“Don’t Cost Nothin”
From the first time I heard this song, I thought that I wish I could share this song with John Prine. It’s been a long year and a half without him, I’ll say. But writers like Washam remind me that all is not lost. The plainspoken wisdom of the song feels really good and comfortable. It don’t cost nothin to write a song or hold a hand. It’s just… incredibly well written folk music. This one reminds me why I love folksy Americana music so much. I’d love to be in the bar when these fellas start singing this one. It’s a gem. -Greg Jones (Ear To The Ground)
“Don’t Cost Nothin,’” which appeared on Washam’s album Squash Blossom released back in April, is a laid-back, breezy tune that offers the message that so many great things in life are free: writing a song, embracing nature, and spending time with a partner, among other soul-fulfilling things.
The track features Washam’s gentle, meandering acoustic strumming and his charming and quaint country-tinged vocals. He is joined by a smooth steel guitar that glides through the mix, as well as some steady click-clackin’ drums. The single is ripe with charisma, and is perfect for floating down a river or sipping a beer on a cool autumn night.
Originally a Souderton, PA, native, Washam later moved to Boston to attend Berklee College of Music, where he studied music production and engineering. In 2011, he moved to Nashville where he and his band, Natural Forces, tirelessly played shows and released four self-produced and engineered records. In 2016, Natural Forces decided to part ways, leading Washam to pursue a solo project.
He released his first solo record, The Washam Machine, that next year, in which he ditched the garage-rock sound of Natural Forces, instead embracing an acoustic-centric Americana sound. His second album, Squash Blossom, would be released some four years later. With help from Will Cafaro (bass) and John Wood (drums), the record was recorded both at Magnetic Sound Studios in East Nashville and at Josh’s home studio.
When Washam isn’t playing shows at local venues and hosting his gig at McNamara’s, he is often working with master luthier Marty MacMillan building acoustic guitars. - Anthony Sandoval (Music Mecca)
Nothing Is Like It Used To Be is a song with a very simple message. Whatever you’re going through, whatever you are dealing with, wherever you are headed and for what reason, it’s a totally new experience. Others might have done something similar but it is by throwing you, the individual, into the mix which creates a truly unique set of circumstances. I think that’s it anyway. And if so, the unsung subtext is this. Don’t listen to others, ignore words of wisdom from people with their smug and all-knowing “been there” attitude, this is very much your adventure, your challenge, face it your way. Approach life’s journey with such a mind-set and you will find that, no matter what the outcome, succeed or fail, you will learn from it, grow from it, create unexpected results from it, perhaps even reinvent the world in some small way…even if it is just the bit you are standing on.
It’s a philosophy which sits neatly with sonic vibe of the music behind it, unfussy, plain speaking, to the point, forward thinking. Country vibes and folky directness slow-dance together cross a rootsy dance floor, acoustic leads, peripheral pedal guitar and subtle, supple bass lines add all the decoration that is required and it is the lone voice and the lyrical message which spends the most time in the spotlight.
There is a lot going on in the world right now but that doesn’t mean that the small, personal, intimate stories aren’t still important, in fact the big headlines are essentially a whole bunch of personal narratives and individual struggles, tales of home and family, the search for a better life, all gathered together under a convenient byline. And when it comes down to it, we all have to go our own way. And whilst you are doing so you can sing this song to remind you that these are your choices to make, your hurdles to cross, your failures, your triumph and you will face them your way. This is your life and that is all that matters. - Dave Franklin (Dancing about Architecture)
We are, by nature, curious creatures. In fact, our very evolution is down to the fact that we always want to know more. What’s under that log? What’s over that hill? What happens if I rub these two sticks together? Curiosity is in our DNA, wanderlust is part of who we are.
So when a friend of Josh Washam decided to swap the valleys, woodlands and rolling hills of Tennessee for the Pacific delights of San Diego, it seemed only right that he should mark the event in song.
San Diego is full of lilting grooves and understated country cool. It celebrates the act of exodus, of making change, of driving off into the sunset and does so over some gorgeous guitar tones and musical textures. It also reminds us that the modern world is a small place and relocating to the other side of the country is hardly the crossing of the Rubicon or the point of no return that it was way back when but that adventure and new quests should always be embraced and such impulses and urges acted upon.
The world is there to be explored, the unknown sought out. Just don’t all expect to have a song written about you when you do make the move. -Dave Franklin (Dancing About Architecture)
Supported by a cast that includes John Wood (drums), Will Cafaro (bass), Steve Peavey (pedal steel, dobro, fiddle, mandocello, concertina), Jeff Adamczyk (organ, keys on four tracks), and Nick Pankey (backing vocals on four tracks), this is a fine example of the high-quality music that is out there, trying to break through to a wider listenership. Commercial radio is no longer the influence that it once was for a developing artist and searching for new outlets has become an increasing challenge in an over-crowded marketplace. However, Josh Washam ticks all the boxes and this is a very interesting new release that highlights his creativity.
Don’t Cost Nothing is a rumination on writing songs, the sense of being in the present, whether taking a walk or just holding hands with the one you love; pedal steel and guitars mixing with mandocello on a very enjoyable opening tune. The easy groove continues with Good Work! and a funky rhythm, all about getting your hands dirty; feeling good in committing to a tough job well done. Some great guitar and organ sounds fill out a compelling backbeat.
Nothing Is Like It Used To Be is a musing on the changing times that are an intrinsic part of growing and learning each day; to just try living your own life, because nobody can ever walk in your shoes. Dream On is a bluesy song that looks at the joys of dreaming and sleeping, and the benefits of not remembering the contents, with some great interplay, as piano and dobro add colours to the arrangement. Record Night is about staying home to enjoy time with your girl and playing whatever takes the mood. Again, some fine ensemble playing with violin and a fine guitar break, augmented by some dynamic drumming that pushes the rhythm.
Grin ‘n’ Bear It has a rock groove and warm organ melody on a track that says sometimes you have to just stand up and take what life throws at you. Rhyme And Reason is a slow melody that reflects on the need to keep working towards your dreams; with violin, mandocello and acoustic guitar mirroring the pain involved in the process, ‘It takes a bit of hard paddling, to get to a dream.’
San Diego is a love letter to the big city and a goodbye to a small hometown, a need to move on and become a laid-back, tanned, beach bum. Time Transpires has a gentle acoustic guitar opening and is a song about getting back to basics, ‘win or lose, you don’t get to choose, Life is just what happens to you.’ Excellent pedal steel supporting the fine fingerpicking style of Washam.
Final track, Sweet 100s, is a tale of picking and eating cherry tomatoes, watching the world pass by and enjoying the moment – just where we came in at the start of the album.
All songs are written by Washam and with a running time just shy of thirty minutes, it’s a great example of turning out engaging, concise songs that are full of personality and fine musicianship.
Review by Paul McGee (Lonesome Highway)
With two singles already released, singer-songwriter Josh Washam is quickly making a name for himself in Nashville in anticipation of his upcoming full-length LP The Washam Machine. The single “Misinformation” is a breezy, honest ballad about trust and communication. The energetic, driven Americana is stylistically similar to releases by established groups like The Avett Brothers, except with one main difference—Washam recorded this all on an 8-track machine in his home studio in Nashville. From the production, to the arrangements, to the cover, this album represents Nashville to its core. The Washam Machine is set to be released on October 6th, and Josh Washam will also be playing a record release show at The Crying Wolf on the 8th. - Lilly Milman The Deli Nashville