Josh Okeefe: Bloomin’ review – Bob Dylan pastiche that hints at more

Mon, May 25, 2020, 16:00

   
 

Album:
Bloomin'

Artist:
Josh Okeefe

Label:
Self-released

Genre:
Singer / Songwriter

Many years ago the late British humorist Neil Innes released a single in which his character induced some discordant notes from his harmonica and acoustic guitar before declaring: “I’ve suffered for my art. Now it’s your turn.” That was a parody of Bob Dylan. And very funny it was too. What young Nashville-based British singer-songwriter Josh Okeefe offers on his debut album is a pastiche. 

From the carefully throwaway clothes on his back to the cap on his head; from the simple urgency of his acoustic guitar and harmonica to the directness of his world-weary voice; from the way his songs don’t hesitate as they pick their way through the moral maze of the world as we knew it (pre-Covid-19), Okeefe evokes the spirit of Dylan circa 1963, the year he released his first album of self-penned songs, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. So welcome to the latest in a long line of new Dylans. Good luck with that.  

Well, maybe not so fast. While Okeefe literally wears his influences too obviously, there is real character in songs such as the universalist We’re All the Same or the righteous Thoughts and Prayers. And his own journey from a working-class Irish emigrant background in Derby to singing at Bernie Sanders meetings is chronicled colourfully in the likes of The Lonely Highway, Young Sailor and memorably Son of the Working Class.

One to watch.