‘Beautiful Tragedy’, out September 28, is the third release from Canadian singer songwriter Josh Taerk, and comes three years since his last album, the critically acclaimed ‘Here’s To Change’.
The eight track album contains the excellent singles, ‘Learning To Let Go’, and ‘Anywhere Love Took Us’, both of which featured on his EP, ‘Stages’, and the title track ‘Beautiful Tragedy’. It’s a hard rocking album with a Springsteen vibe but is nonetheless filled with tenderness and compassion. Taerk is a gentle man in every sense of the word, as anyone who’s met him or seen his posts on social media can attest – but when he’s behind the mic and strapped into his guitar, he gives it all he’s got with passion and soul.
Josh isn’t just the voice on this album, nor is he just the songwriter, but he’s also played a part in the production as well, co-producing with Teddy Morgan, best known for his work with Kevin Costner and Modern West, and Carl Broemel. The bones of the album were put down at Sound Emporium in Nashville, while the overall production was finished up at The Orange Lounge, back in Toronto. Speaking of the opportunity to work with Morgan, Taerk said,
“Co-producing with Teddy has helped me get to the root of what I love about the music that has inspired me. On this record we were able to blend the melodies and hooks of pop music, the energy and grit of rock and country, as well as the personal and emotional story telling of singer-songwriters.”
The album covers a vast array of emotions, from love and loss, good times and bad times, stories of happiness and tragedy. Taerk’s passion pours into his lyrics, they’re heartfelt and complex, and it’s this which makes it difficult to choose a favourite song on the album. Currently however, we’re enjoying ‘Beauty Queen’, which tells the story of what goes on in the life of a girl who’s going through life fulfilling the dreams of her mother and others; she’s not committed to it all and can’t wait to skip town as soon as she can – but in the meantime she’s going through the motions of it all and doing what she has to.
On the surface, the tracks seem to have a certain friendly familiarity about them, but lyrically there’s a darkness. The afore-mentioned ‘Beauty Queen’ is tragic in the sense that we don’t quite know what will happen next: will the girl be able to escape from the small town expectations put on her, and make a success of her life, or will she acquiesce, marry the captain of the football team, and accept her lot in life.
‘Jekyll Or Hyde’ is similarly tragic, the tale of two childhood friends, almost like brothers, whose lives took wildly different turns – “same coin two different sides/through the choices we make our future takes shape/when you see yourself what lies behind your eyes/Jekyll Or Hyde”. It’s a sobering story and a cautionary tale about being sure to make the right life decisions.
The title of the album was based on Josh’s ability to write a diverse mix of lyrics. He says the nature of his writing forms an allegory of how he sees life:
“I chose the title because I liked the contradiction. I’ve never fit into just one category, I’m influenced and inspired by a lot of different elements that sometimes seem completely opposite, and that’s what makes me, me.”
The album is indeed a very personal journey, it’s Josh taking every day as it comes. Final track, ‘Learning To Let Go’, released as a single, can be taken as a life guide on how not to take life too seriously, to know this is the only life we have, and we need to realise that it’s important to take it all in, and enjoy ourselves, and that “all we can control/is learning to let go”. Back in January I had the opportunity to speak to Josh, and I asked him, how do we learn to let go:
“See I never quite figured that out! That’s why the song’s called *Learning* to let go! It’s an ongoing process. It was a really full moment when I wrote that song, I was with my producer Teddy Morgan, in Nashville, at the time that was the first song we’d ever written, we’d just been working on ‘Here’s To Change’, we’d finished coming off the road with that record, and we wanted to do something together, so we got into the studio and we just started talking about life, and it’s one of those really cool moments where we were both in the same place mentally and emotionally, and we started talking about the idea of letting go of having to control the outcome and knowing what’s going to come next, and just live in the possibilty of right now.”