On April 8, 2022, Canadian singer-songwriter and producer Josh Ramsay released his first solo record, “The Josh Ramsay Show.”
While this album marks Ramsay’s first solo endeavor, it is far from his first recording experience. Over the past 20 years, Ramsay has put out five albums with his band Marianas Trench, who have won over a dozen Canadian music awards and have been nominated for countless more.
Despite being the voice of Marianas Trench, Ramsay makes his solo album sound distinctly different. Rather than adhering to the pop-rock sound his band has become known for, the front man dips his toe into many different genres, showcasing his versatility as an artist. Ramsay also completely wrote and produced the record, playing all the instruments except for orchestral pieces.
Like many recent albums, “The Josh Ramsay Show” is a product of the 2020 coronavirus quarantine. Ramsay conveyed his desire to experiment with many different genres in an interview.
“If the pandemic hadn’t happened, I would have been busy with Marianas Trench,” Ramsay said. “But I needed something to do in quarantine, and with no deadlines, I could just tinker away at it. My goal was to try to do as many genres as possible, so it sounds like a variety show.”
The album opener, “Lady Mine,” doubled as the lead single. This first song contains a ‘70s hard rock style of music with a bluesy guitar riff throughout and features co-lead vocals with Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger. “Lady Mine” also has a symphony of trumpets and other brass instruments, which add to the song’s heaviness.
This brass instrumentation is a point of distinction between Marianas Trench and Ramsay’s solo record. While the band has used brass in their more recent albums, the instruments have been scarce and subtle. On “The Josh Ramsay Show,” the trumpets and trombones take center stage, which is most evident in the album’s second song “Blame it On the Beat.”
“The Josh Ramsay Show” also features Ramsay experimenting with country music. The third song, “Best of Me,” features Canadian country artist Dallas Smith in a ballad with a fantastic chorus and an extremely high vocal part from Ramsay.
The album’s third single is another highlight. Ramsay said via his YouTube channel the song “Spellbound” was written for his mother who had recently passed away. The track has a whimsical feel to it, featuring a playful vocal melody and complex staccato string arrangement. Ramsay is known for his complex string compositions, as he uses them extensively throughout the Marianas Trench discography as well as “Call Me Maybe,” the 2011 hit he co-wrote with Carly Rae Jepsen.
Jumping from country and fantastical, we head straight into metal with the song “Painted Faces.” This is arguably Ramsay’s heaviest song of his career, featuring slashing guitars and an equally bombastic vocal performance.
Another interesting quality of “The Josh Ramsay Show” is the inclusion of three “transitionary” pieces in the form of a cinematic orchestral score. “Army of One,” “The Ballad of Cheeky Valentino” and “The Deep Woods” are all minute-long instrumentals resembling movie scores. One might associate this work with Ramsay’s composed orchestral pieces for the Marianas Trench album “Astoria,” released in 2015.
Out of 10 stars, I give “The Josh Ramsay Show” eight. While the album does seem all over the place without much continuity, each of the songs are produced and arranged fantastically. This is Ramsay’s most complex album of his career, arguably due to no limitations with a four-person band.
While many Marianas Trench fans are patiently hoping and waiting for the band’s sixth album, “The Josh Ramsay Show” is more than enough to suffice for now. For those who have not heard of Marianas Trench or Josh Ramsay, I cannot recommend this album enough. There is something in it for everyone, and you will not be disappointed.