Working out of the Boston area, performer/songwriter/producer Josh Friedman first assumed the name That One Eyed Kid for solo recordings and performances in 2012 and has since produced two well-received EP releases and made live appearances at various Midwestern and New England locales. The third short form release from Friedman, That One Eyed Kid’s Crash and Burn, shows an artist who has further refined the sonic vision heard on their debut while growing ever more confident as a songwriter.
Friedman has brought a first rank team of production and post-production collaborators to help him realize the songwriting vision for this brief but powerful collection. His blend of acoustic and electronic instrumentation with the aforementioned production and emotive, vulnerable vocals is quite unlike anything else being served up today. That One Eyed Kid hits a new peak with Crash and Burn as Friedman accomplishes more with five songs than many high caliber songwriters manage with ten tracks.
That One Eyed Kid Keeps Growing
“Bright Big Red” sends Crash and Burn off with a wonderfully produced track replete with flawlessly constructed vocal harmonies, a balanced mix, and Friedman’s warm vocal. The lyrics possess a highly individual quality and the chorus, in particular, has a streamlined lift listeners will have a difficult time forgetting. The electronic side of the song is never applied too thick – instead, Friedman arranges the song with an airy bounce quite befitting its character. The same intelligent pop-oriented approach defines the second song “Burn Out Right”. The verse vocals are much less direct here than in the opener, but Friedman certainly hits a nice stride with the chorus. His penchant for writing strong choruses is evident throughout the entirety of this EP. If no one else did, Friedman alone would give lie to the preconception that this musical style is incapable of making substantive statements and it remains accessible all the while.
“Native Advertising” shifts its approach in comparison. There are light echoes of a classic pop rock approach in the way the initial vocal transitions into the song proper – it practically moves close to doo-wop. The texture is thoroughly modern, however, and the synth lines shimmer brightly. The retro theme continues on the soul-influenced “No Touching” and Friedman delivers a sensitive, smoky vocal that shows a great understanding of the style. He isn’t afraid of experimenting with bedrock values like the song’s percussion and those risks invariably payoff for the performer.
Crash and Burn concludes with “Rewind”. It’s a final artfully assembled piece of pop songcraft further illuminated by a warm Friedman vocal and some recurring musical elements with a more boisterous edge than we’ve heard on earlier tracks. The vocal harmonies are much denser here, as well, than we’ve encountered on earlier songs and it helps give “Rewind” the necessary grandeur to occupy this spot in the running order. That One Eyed Kid’s Crash and Burn covers a lot of sonic ground in a relatively limited amount of time and maintains its consistency throughout. It’s a resounding triumph for an immensely creative artist.