Josh Damigo Hope (self-released)
Josh Damigo is one crafty son-of-a-gun. A leather-jacketed lover-boy with goodly Christian values, the singer-songwriter offers up sentimental love songs that almost reach the point of being unwholesome but never quite cross the line.
Now he's backed by a killer band; Hope finds Damigo expanding on his acoustic sound with orchestral strings, bluesy guitar licks and Kenny Chesney-style countrypop arrangements. On album highlight "Slow Goin," he teams up with seasoned songwriter A.J. Croce to deliver a sizzling honky-tonk jam with a hard-rock edge.
But Damigo hasn't lost his taste for extra-sharp cheddar. Hope, his second album, consists almost entirely of love songs—"Just Let Me Love You," "You Happened to Me," "I'll Have to Say I Love You in a Song" (a cover of Jim Croce's song). With that many "You" songs, he's bound to win over some impressionable young ladies through sheer persistence, though others might die of boredom.
Thankfully, Damigo lets up on the heavy emoting on "Alright," an instantly likeable tune he wrote with coffeehouse rap homeboy Rob Deez. Breezy and rollicking with a warm chorus and wicked lyrics ("My girl just ran off with my best friend / now they ask me to be their best man"), it practically begs to be sung out loud. If Damigo can find the right licensing deal, he might just have a bona-fide hit on his hands.
Still, while Hope has some bright spots (including his lovely duet with Nina Storey on "So Far, So Good"), 17 tracks is a lot to sit through for any band— and it gets to be a real slog when the singer's being so damn serious. Next time, Damigo might trade some of his potent cheese for a little more good humor.