By Roog Kubur, April 27 2022—
Imagine: it’s 2012 and you’re sitting in the front seat of your mother’s car, driving to the nearest Tim Hortons. You turn on the radio to fill the space and hear a man belting in almost unintelligible speech through the radio, but you’re able to pick out the lyrics “that you haven’t had enough.” Your interest is piqued enough to keep the song playing and wait until the DJ reveals its title. Congratulations, you just imagined the quintessential Canadian 2010s experience, hearing one of the many singles by Canadian pop-punk band Marianas Trench for the first time. Thanks to frontman Josh Ramsay’s debut solo album, that sweet nostalgia may just come back.
The Josh Ramsay Show is the eponymous debut solo album of one of the most iconic figures to grace Canadian media, Josh Ramsay. Beyond being the frontman to, arguably, Canada’s most well-known pop-punk band, he is also the songwriter behind works by Nickelback, 5 Seconds of Summer, and Carly Rae Jepsen, creating the Grammy-nominated hit “Call Me Maybe.” Needless to say, this project is much awaited, seeing how Ramsay will make his reintroduction into the music world.
Before even getting a chance to listen to the album, the tracklist is already eye-catching. As if this album couldn’t get any more impressive, almost half the tracks include features from a slew of both upcoming and well-established Canadian artists. The album includes contributions from Fefe Dobson, Chad Kroeger, Serena Ryder, Tyler Shaw and many others. These names further evoke a sense of nostalgia, reminding everyone of the days when we would hear “Stutterin,” “Kiss Goodnight” and even “Photograph” on the radio.
If you were expecting a series of rejected Marianas Trench demos, you’d be far from correct. What makes Ramsay a brilliant musician is the range of genres he’s able to command. After over two decades of experience, anyone could tell that, despite this being a debut, it’s made by a man who knows his stuff.
The album takes its listeners on a journey, opening with echoing guitars, booming percussion and symphonic brass on “Lady Mine” featuring Chad Kroeger. This song is the perfect introduction to the world of Ramsay, with the cheeky three-part harmony, scandalous lyrics and rockstar swagger that couldn’t be done by anyone else. It climaxes with a face-melting guitar solo by Kroeger that reminds every listener exactly who they’re messing with. The rest of the album follows suit, exploring a range of genres that are each expressed perfectly. There are instrumental interludes to break up the drama, pop tunes infused with vivacious brass ensembles, and alternative rock with groovy basslines. There’s something for everyone, even a bit of country for whoever may be in that phase right now.
The record is a cinematic masterpiece, making use of Ramsay’s incredible range and musical prowess (did I mention that every instrument on the record is played by him?). Ramsay mentioned that albums nowadays are listened to on shuffle, and he intended to take full advantage of this new development.
Each song feels fresh and original, keeping listeners on their toes for what’s going to come next. While the project feels like one cohesive unit, there’s no denying the sonic whiplash from going from something like “Painted Faces” — a track venting about how disingenuous society is that sounds straight out of the Seattle’s ‘90s grunge scene — to “Spellbound” — a love letter to his mother riddled with sweet violins and an even sweeter falsetto. What makes the album so enticing is that the sonic whiplash is still fun. Each track sounds like a different part of Ramsay, which is what makes it so engaging.
The Josh Ramsay Show is the best title for a project of this nature. He’s at the forefront of each song, reminding listeners that he will always be a legend in the music world. This is a body of work best experienced all at once, like the soundtrack to the craziest biopic you’ll ever see. The album can be heard on Spotify, Apple Music and anywhere else you listen to music. Josh Ramsay will also be on tour across Canada, including a Calgary date on May 2.