Josh Schurr’s “Sleep Like The World”

“I don’t think I would listen to this album again unless I was going to bed.” -VP

Luke Goddard

out of 10

Sleep Like The World
July 17, 2010

Josh Schurr’s self-released debut EP Sleep Like The World is far from cutesy, though its cover art with a kid-like, crayon drawing of a bird on a messily misshapen world, designed by Schurr himself, may suggest otherwise. Instead, the EP, carrying five tracks, packs quite a heavy load.

Schurr, of Philadelphia, is more than a triple-threat. He sings, writes his own songs, and plays the piano, acoustic guitar, Wurlitzer, and organ. His voice is deep, resounding, and always soothing. There’s a tinge of honey in it, making it warm and sweet to your ears as it takes a slow and almost agonizing plunge into your mind and the rest of your body.

It’s also very lively and rich. There’s something about his voice though, which is vaguely familiar. You’ve heard before and you can’t seem to pinpoint who, exactly, it reminds you of. Maybe Gavin Degraw? Mixed with some Josh Jackson? It even sounds like a less raspy Damien Rice. I could go on. But what I mean is that you’ve heard it before—or at least something like it. It’s great and he can definitely sing, but how memorable is it going to be?

When the first track, “Making My Mind Up,” started playing, I thought I was listening to an awkward, slower version of Sara Bareilles’ “Love Song” (though not as bad as hers). It’s the pianos: a nice touch, but it just sounds too similar. If it weren’t for his voice I would have probably stopped listening. The lyrics weren’t so bad, but did seem a bit simplistic and cheesy—just like “Love Song”: “Excuse me for making my mind up/ Oooh Oooh/ You confuse me/ You’re taking my time up/ Ohhh Oh Ohhh.” It could be catchy because it’s easy to remember, but for me it seems to just fade into the background. I did, however, enjoy the instrumental break for about 30 seconds in the middle of the track. That guitar was sounding good. I liked it.

Moving onto the second track, “Sleep Like The World,” the sounds slows down. It’s a little bittersweet. The soft guitar repeating in the background with the mix of blossoming and fading strings feels like it’s softening my skin. I enjoyed, also, the background vocals of Lauren Schurr just barely audible underneath Josh Schurr’s voice. They match really well and it adds something unique to the track. I could definitely fall asleep to this song and I’m not sure if it’s the combination of its soothing sounds or because it slips out of my mind quickly.

Track four, “Middle of Love,” picks up the beat—a bit. It’s one of the catchier tracks because it doesn’t have a slow build-up and gets you right to the repetitive, easy-to-remember lyrics, which are sung at a faster pace. It keeps your ears tuned in and it’s way more interesting. The last track, “Feathers Fall,” slows it down once again. Here, Schurr’s voice belts over a single piano line. It sounds pretty and he sounds a little hurt. Because of the absence of the strings, Schurr’s voice is able to shine even more. But this track, with its slow lead into a build-up climax was kind of boring for me. I kept wanting to skip through it to see if something “intense” was going to happen, though when I did I would always hear the line: “Seagull’s fighting for you/ Who’s gonna win?” which I couldn’t help but find a bit cheeseball and funny. For an ending track to an EP, I guess it would be a nice way to doze off.

Overall, I found Sleep Like The World a bit too sleepy sounding for me. Every track, though it sounded pretty and well composed, was a bit too slow or too familiar. I found myself getting sidetracked and always returning to my iTunes to see how much time was slept…I mean left. It was all also a bit too cheesy for me. I don’t think I would listen to this album again unless I was going to bed. Though for a debut, this guy’s definitely got a voice and I think he’s showing signs of potential. And even though it’s not my particular cup of tea, it’s definitely got enough sugar to keep it thick.