Singer/songwriter pop doesn’t often sport an extroverted commentary, let alone a narrative that builds optimism over introspection on the surface, but that isn’t stopping Brooke Josephson from incorporating this exact theme into the new heartfelt record Live & Let Live. Josephson expands upon the surreal elements in modern pop-folk exponentially in the six songs included here; Live & Let Live doesn’t try to placate its listeners with a lot of predictable metaphors and poeticisms we’ve heard a thousand times before. Instead of taking an easy route to our hearts, this artist directs our attention in a million different directions and forces a reaction through both intense musicality and unrelenting lyrical wit. She doesn’t hold back on either front, and for my money, it results in an EP for the ages.
Live & Let Live boasts a splendid compositional depth from start to finish, and in the tracks “No for an Answer,” “Live & Let Live,” “Burning Journals” and “Good Kind of Tired,” we get to hear Josephson at her most vulnerable and unguarded. There’s a maturity to her attack that balances out even the most searing of instrumental components in this EP, and yet it never sounds as if she’s putting on a musical mask to conceal her deeper thoughts. She’s wearing her heart on her sleeve but avoiding the look of a wounded singer/songwriter in all six of these tracks, and among her peers in the indie rock community, that should give her an added layer of street cred capable of elevating her brand above the competition.
As much as I love Josephson’s lead vocal in this extended play, it’s the harmony her voice forges with the guitar parts in “Burning Journals,” the title track, “Eye in the Sky” and “All We Never Had” that feels like the true centerpiece of Live & Let Live. This is a situation where tonal expressiveness can exceed the presence of any verse, no matter how affective, but somehow both elements come across on an even keel in these three tracks. Josephson is not a household name, but with the degree of passion that its main woman exudes in every song on this cut, I don’t know what would prevent this act from reaching the primetime spotlight a lot sooner than it will later. It takes chops to string diverse content together, but Josephson is making it look pretty simple here.
Brooke Josephson shows a lot of potential in this magnificent new EP, and the next time she decides to enter the recording studio, I’m hoping it will be to make the sequel to Live & Let Live. As straightforward as this is going to sound, the reality is that Live & Let Live is a feel-good record untethered to the pop/rock mainstream in the best way possible in that it rejects the foundations of everything we’re expecting to find in its tracks. That’s about as easy to find in the American underground right now, and if it’s just a preview of what this singer/songwriter still has in store for us, she’s going to have quite the next chapter ahead of her.