Josh Charles has an incredible voice. The kind of voice that allows him to approach a wide variety of musical styles. His latest endeavor Love, Work & Money showcases his multi-faceted talent as singer, song-writer, composer and pianist. The album, reflecting the artist's own personality, is moody, up-lifting, nostalgic, and celebratory. Charming and deep.
Each track is almost a contradiction of the one before it, and yet as a whole, the album is uniquely unified by an underlying theme that can only be classified as a funk/blues meets dixieland fusion. Beginning with the full-on orchestration — including a horn section, of "The Waiting Game", the album weaves Josh Charles' piano playing, and his soulful voice, into an intricate, masterful collection of songs that create an outstanding patchwork of musical styles.
As a musician his abilities vary widely; he is as comfortable playing funky, blues-oriented pop as he is picking up his guitar at 2AM and whipping up a New York gritty cover of The Cure's "Love Song" — much to the delight of his twitter fans. For the past year he has been writing and performing to raise money for New Orleans through The Rebuild Tour. The single "Healing Time" has been submitted to the Grammy's for Best Song, Record of the Year, and Best New Artist.
Love, Work & Money is a highly polished studio album. Featuring several songs co-written by Ric Steel, it allows you to forget the problems of the world and escape into the sound of an eclectic mix of everything from jazz, blues, funk, pop and mellow soul. Josh refers to his musical style, a melding of the Motown music he grew up listening to and the New Orleans sound that has fired up his musical passion, as NOtown. Josh has given his brand of music its own unique name, and thankfully, it's such an original sound that you'd be hard-pressed to force it into any genre other than its own.
The rollicking keyboard play on the title track "Love, Work & Money" and "Pickin' Up the Pieces", as well as the New Orleans style dixieland blues of "The Answer", clearly show the influence of Charles' musical mentor Dr. John.
Particularly promising are the blues-heavy tracks "I'm Always Here For You", "It Ain't Easy" and the nostalgic reminiscing of "Stars". A well-produced cover of Jimmy Cliff's "The Harder They Come" as well as "Healing Time", the song written for his New Orleans benefit tour, act as a reminder to listeners that this album is more about love than work & money. Ten percent of the record's net sales will go towards "helping to heal New Orleans". A project that Josh Charles has put his heart, soul and music into for over a year.
Love, Work & Money is certainly ideal for those listeners who love the music of New Orleans, and for those who can't resist the pluck of a funk-fueled Motown bass, but it does leave one wondering what Josh Charles has in store for us next. Whatever it is, it promises to be excellent, full of soul — and to defy the established genres.