It’s been a busy year for Josh Osho: After releasing “The Manifesto EP” then his debut album “L.I.F.E (Learning Is For Ever)”, touring plus headlining his own show in London and doing festival dates over the summer, he still found time to record another body of work. “The John Doe EP” is a collection of seven songs covering themes of identity, freedom, love, loss and legacy.
The John Doe figure is used to explore the freedom of anonymity: The idea that in being nobody, you can become anybody. The title track, “John Doe (Forget to Remember”) is a reflective, uplifting song about breaking away from the labels and categories that we use to define ourselves and our place within the world. The song is a call for people to find the freedom to be whoever they want to be, rather than aspiring to someone else’s vision. The steady bleep of a heart rate monitor, the church organ and Osho’s rich vocals all combine to give this song its intensely ethereal tone and give gravity to the message being communicated. This opening track does an excellent job of setting up what to expect from the rest of the EP, both musically and lyrically.
“Even in War” is a folky mid-tempo track about viewing life as series of experiences both good and bad: ‘Even in war, the birds sing’. There is the idea that even in the darkest moments of life there is still light and there is still hope. “The Sandbox” continues this concept, observing the lessons adults can learn from children in terms of living life fearlessly being carefree and contented. “The Last Letter” is a bitter sweet song that encourages the listener not to lose themselves in grief over the loss of a loved one because ‘Our time is only borrowed’. The legacy of those, passed lives on through those left behind: ‘I’m living forever, through you and your endeavour’. The song advises the bereaved to find solace in this.
Osho avoids sounding corny, patronising or preachy. He comes across as authentically honest with a youthful wisdom. You get the sense that he truly believes in what he is singing and that he’d be singing it, whether he had the platform to tell just one person or thousands of people. There is the familiar twang and scrape of the acoustic guitar which give his songs that genuine, wholesome, earthy vibe. Even the most cynical among us couldn’t deny that there’s something about Josh Osho that just rings true. The one time on the EP when stereotypical expressions are used, it’s done with an ironic twist. “The Clichés” is a self-conscious love song in which, Osho finds himself stuck having to use some typical romantic expressions to describe the way a lover makes him feel.
The EP features two covers and having previously done amazing versions of Kanye West’s “Jesus Walks” and Alex Clare’s “Too Close”, Fans have come to expect great things from any song that gets reimagined by Josh Osho. The two featured on The John Doe EP do not disappoint. The first is “Call My Name”, a hypnotic reworking of Cheryl Cole’s synth-heavy dance track. The second is the classic, “Could you be Loved” by Bob Marley.
This is an impressive EP. It’s musically atmospheric and lyrically clear and simple. Josh Osho is a storyteller and The John doe EP is genuine food for the mind and soul. You get the sense that this artist is here to impart something more than great songs. Amongst the mix of disposable music in the charts, Osho creates music with such depth and clarity that it’s instantly grounding. Perhaps that’s what makes his songs so relatable and so refreshing. There’s nothing to fault here, The John Doe EP is like a warm musical embrace that no one should shy away from.
Reviewed by Bibi Cofie
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