Thirty-some-odd years ago, a boy was born in North Dakota to a father who was both a preacher and the town sheriff. Over the years, that man just happened to teach his boy to make music. The result was Josh Harty, and he sounds just about like you'd expect him to, given those credentials.
This is Americana country, pure and simple. Spare instrumentals, slithery violin riffs, train-engine rhythms and the perfect voice for singing lines like "Whiskey and morphine have been good friends to me, / But still I've been accused of keepin' worse company." While the sentiment seems grim, there's a self-awareness and earnestness that makes the words sound honest and humble rather than washed-up. These tunes cover familiar territoryhighways, lost loves, loneliness, drinkingbut it wouldn't be Americana if it didn't, and Harty wears tradition well.
Albeit a short album, Nowhere has the sound of a musician who has found his voice, both literally and stylistically. The songs feel cohesive, and the ethos remains steady throughout. There's nothing flashy here, but something more like quiet contemplation and a refreshing restraint that lets his voice and lyrics claim the spotlight they deserve.
Josh Harty plays The Top Hat Thursday, May 31, at 10 PM, with Caroline Keys and Two Story Ranch. $5.