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Daniel Renfrow | Photo: Deborah Smail | December 3, 2012
With his new record and sweetly poetic style, young singer-songwriter Josiah Hall’s star is on the rise.
At 15, folk-style singer-songwriter Josiah Hall, whose self-titled debut record just dropped, concluded that becoming a musician would solve his dating problems. “I thought if I was a musician, everything would just work itself out,” says Hall, as he introspectively picks at a chicken sandwich at a Montrose café. “If people liked... my songs, then these girls would never leave me.”
Hall’s teenage dream never quite came true. Puppy love died, and his poetic young heart was broken. But, then again, the now 19-year-old’s relationship struggles provided great fodder for his EP. All five of its tracks were, he says, inspired by his past and current girlfriends.
The tall and handsome singer, known for his sweetly whispered melodies, sports his long hair tousled, with the expert nonchalance of a musician beyond his years. While he’s subtly aware of his talent, one would be pressed to find any pretension behind his effortless hipster style. But he could be forgiven a bit of swagger. At his young age, he’s already played shows in top Houston venues Fitzgerald’s and the Mink, and he traveled to New York to perform at the 2012 CMJ Music Marathon—his first time on a plane.
And now buzz is building for the record, on which Hall not only sings but also plays most of the instruments—guitar, banjo, ukulele, mandolin, harmonica, jaw harp, piano and xylophone. Lyrically, the EP takes a novel path around teenage angst by, well, going to the birds. Each of the songs has an ostensible aviary theme. “Lovely Bird” is an ode to his current squeeze, while the other tracks are more solemn. “I never wanted to write a song about a girl leaving me,” says Hall, who actually volunteers at Wildlife Center Texas, rehabilitating orphaned baby birds, “so singing a song about a bird flying away makes it seem like it’s just something that person just has to do. Just something in that thing’s nature.”
And it makes for prettier songs, too. “Chimey Swift” goes, I climbed and whistled from my roof. It was audible to everyone but you. “That sounds better than, ‘I posted some s**t on Facebook and everyone saw it but you,’” Hall says.
Music is a family affair for Hall. His parents are both accomplished musicians. And his big brother Jaron plays guitar in his band, along with singer/violinist Hannah Anderson and drummer/base player Thomas Marsella. The gang expects a busy 2013 playing locally. “Houston right now, it’s becoming something different, especially for live music. It really has a strong scene,” says Hall, smiling, clearly ready to spread his wings.