Like usual, I have no clue how I got connected with Joshua Powell but when his “Psychotropic” CD came across my desk alongside with a press release calling it an “acid trip for the whole family”, well, do I really need to say more. As if that description wasn’t enough to sell me on this album, the fact that he thanks “the body of a bat that my friend found and had taxidermied” in his liner notes definitely put me over the edge. I honestly had no clue what I was going to get from this eleven song album but I was intrigued and excited as I threw it into my CD player (yes, a CD player because I’m old school. Judge away.).
“Black Lodge (Water)” kicks off this album in the most intriguing way possible. With just a heavily southern twanged voice, no instruments, singing a hymn type song, I still had no clue where this album would go. Would it go country? Would it go indie? That’s when the guitars kicked in and it instantly became clear, this was going to be an album that refused to be put into a box. From the psychedelic vibe on the vocals to the driving yet calm kick of the bass drum and strum of the guitar, I instantly understood why the press release called this an “acid trip for the whole family” and I left myself go on whatever adventure this album would take me on.
Although “Black Lodge (Water)” sets the stage for what’s to come in the best way, “Arrowheads or Worse” (the second track) takes that and expands on it. This song definitely leans towards the indie side of things but there’s still a very trippy effect to the vocals. A bit echoey but still with a strong sense of power, Joshua Powell’s vocals instantly became something that I could listen to all day. Comforting but energetic, he truly has a special something something in him. I usually love to read along to lyrics as I play through albums for the first time but there were no lyric sheets included in the album. That being said, there didn’t need to be. I realized about half way through this second show that I didn’t care about the lyrics at all and was more than content with just the music. Beyond that, Joshua’s voice is so clear that you can easily hear what he’s saying and interpret those words accordingly.
“Bright Deceiver!” begins with a waterfall of vocals that are instantly replaced by guitar sounds that, to me, mimic water. A very fluid song, I loved the sense of calm that it brought over not just my soul, but also my cats. Comforting and warm, this would be the perfect song for a Sunday morning as you catch up on online gossip and drink your coffee. The fourth track, “Econoline” seems to take that water vibe from “Bright Deceiver!” but slow it down and make it a bit more somber. Still an extremely fluid song with clear movement, this is the first time in this album where you get this very emotional vibe from Joshua’s vocals and to say it is perfect would not be a stretch. Although calmer and a little bit more dark, this track still fits the album perfectly and is just a continuation of the journey through “Psychotropic” which I, for one, hoped would never end.
The acoustic guitar that kicks off “Bliss is a Flak Jacket” was a bit of a shock. It seemed like it came out of nowhere and didn’t fit but, again, as soon as Joshua’s voice kicked in, it made sense. A little bit more southern-indie, there’s a very infectious element to the beat and a rhythmic pattern to the vocals that makes you want to move. Although there was energy in every song prior, “Bliss is a Flak Jacket” was the first song that made it impossible for me to sit still. The way “Bliss is a Flak Jacket flowed into the sixth track “Ascension” was a thing of beauty. Like the best rollercoaster ride ever, “Ascension” takes the energy from “Bliss is a Flak Jacket” and completely flips it over. Again, like the other songs, there’s no denying the energy but this song takes the infectious tempo of “Bliss is a Flak Jacket” and instantly replaces it with a calming Sunday morning vibe. The dramatic change in scenery between these two songs was a bold choice when it came to putting this album together but it absolutely worked.
The album stays on the calm side for “Spirit of the Trailer Park” but a brightness is added to Joshua’s voice that had yet to be heard. You would think that since this was track number seven, you had heard it all but Joshua is there to remind you that you have not and your “acid trip” was far from over. One of my favorite things about this album is the way Joshua’s voice is 100% his but he is somehow able to manipulate it to make it sound a million different ways. The change in the vocal styling from “Spirit of the Trailer Park” to “Supercareful” is a perfect example of this. The brightness he had in “Spirit of the Trailer Park” is instantly replaced by a more fluid style like I heard in “Bright Deceiver!” when the album continues into “Supercareful”. Definitely a bit more calming, this is a song that instantly had me drifting off to a dreamworld where everyone was flying around by balloon and cats were living in castles (yeah, not quite sure why that’s where my mind went and I promise I’m not on anything, that’s just literally how dreamy this song is).
“Mandala in Reverse” seemed to be a bit of a collective track of the rest of the album. With Joshua’s psychedelic vocals, an almost southern twang to the beat, and an overall vibe that made you want to just rock along to the beat, this song instantly became a favorite of mine. I loved that, after listening to the previous songs, I could pick out different elements of this one and pinpoint where I had heard them before. It would have been easy for the album to end at this point but Joshua clearly had other ideas for the listener and the album continues with “’59 Tomahawk”. Again, just when you thought you had heard everything this album has to offer, Joshua throws a new guitar style into the mix that makes this track sound unlike anything else on it. I love how on even the second to last song, this album is still full of surprises.
Closing out this long and beautiful journey was “Chakra #6”. A more lullaby vibe, it was the perfect way from me to go from my beautiful journey through this album to the realization that I still had to clean my apartment and get some stuff done today. I could have kept on hitting repeat until it was time to leave for my concert later on in the day. Although a clear ending to the album, this is an album I could listen to over and over again and keep on noticing new things.
I don’t know how Joshua found me but I’m extremely thankful he did. If you’re looking for a daydream to get lost in, I highly suggest checking out Joshua Powell’s “Psychotropic”. Seriously one of the best journeys I have been on in a long time.
My Favorite Track(s): “Mandala In Reverse”; “Spirit of the Trailer Park”
Chances Of Getting A Noise Complaint While Listening To In An Apartment: 5.1 out of 10
Day-Dream-ability: 8.9 out of 10
What My Cats Thought Of It: Artemis slept right in front of my speakers; Autumn sunbathed in my room
How Badly I Want To See This Performed Live: 8.2 out of 10
My Overall Rating: 4.4 out of 5
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