Song Review: Josh Abbott Band, “Amnesia”

There are some paradoxes in life that I will never understand. Why do our noses run and our feet smell? Why do we drive on parkways and park on driveways? Could a song called “Amnesia” actually be the one that makes me remember the Josh Abbott Band?

If that last question made you go “Who?” you’re not alone. While the Josh Abbott Band has been making noise on the Texas music scene for almost a decade, their national exposure has been limited up to this point, and they’ve had exactly one single crack the Billboard Top 40 (and it only made it to #37). Their latest attempt at chart relevance is a re-release of their 2015 single “Amnesia,” which the band apparently felt didn’t get a fair shake the first time around. While this sort of re-release tactic has been used effectively in the past, it requires the artist to has a successful single to build momentum for the re-release, something the JAB lacks. Still, “Amnesia” seems like the type of song that should be able to stand on its own merits.

The song’s biggest asset is its excellent production. Most contemporary country songs, especially Bro-Country and Metropolitan songs, throw in a token banjo that adds nothing to the overall mix, but “Amnesia” throws the listener a curve by making the banjo a prominent part of the melody, making it the only instrument (other than the drums) to accompany the verses and drive the melody, and it drives it surprisingly well. Guitars are added during the chorus and bridge, building energy as the song goes on and releasing it in an explosion on the final chorus. The use of minor chord progressions throughout the song give it a haunting, almost menacing feel that amplifies the angst of the singer.

Thematically, the song is the lament of a man who is being driven so crazy by the memory of a lost love that he feels amnesia would be preferable to his current pain. The lyrics themselves are solid if unspectacular, and they mix perfectly with the production to further the song’s melancholic vibe.

Personally, I find Josh Abbott himself to be the weakest part of the song—his voice reminds me of Tom Higgenson of the Plain White T’s with a hint of Collin Raye thrown in, and isn’t something I’d go out of my way to listen to. (One wonders if the song would have had more of an impact with a stronger vocalist, like the actual Collin Raye.) Still, Abbott brings enough emotion to the table here to deliver a believable performance, and the production does the rest.

Overall, “Amnesia” is a decent song that genuinely piques my interest in the Josh Abbott Band. While I imagine it will eclipse its prior airplay peak—said peak was #56, so that’s not saying much—I still don’t see it making much of an impact on the charts. It’ll be the chart’s loss.

Rating: 6/10. It makes for a nice pre-Halloween mood-setter, so take a listen and see what you think.

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