Not breaking the mold of his previous releases, Atlanta producer and musician Joshua Worden‘s 4th, Cinders (released on Wavematter Records on November 10, 2017) opens with the beat-thick, vocally-meditative Biven’s Arm. This cryptic title blends R & B and trip-hop with a jazz patina. The lead song is underlied by ambient synth washes and Worden’s gentle voice urging us to “Hold onto the cinder”, just a single lyric on this EP redolent of enlightenment. Next track, The Wonder, builds from a detuning waver, minimal beat and repeating lead that allows Worden’s voice to weave in between. He doubles his voice over the repeating melody before harmonizing with another keyboard track. It’s glitchy and pleasing all at the the same time. Tennessee begins to open up Worden’s voice more than the preceding tracks. He loves to play with assembling musical harmonies with synth, guitar and vocal. Final song, Echoes takes the EP in a dramatic step toward a blend of indie-pop and modern R & B more than the other tracks. While showcasing Joshua Worden’s voice more than other tracks, it fits thematically with the blueprint of the EP.
The music is light in the sense that without the ethereal synth pads and reverbed drums, the frequency-modulated noise would colour these songs dark. Worden’s musical influences are plain to hear but he’s drawing upon some strong ones – there are pads suggesting Vangelis here, a dose of Washed Out’s throb there and the bold lead lines of Tangerine Dream. And apt comparison of this coalescence of genres may be Dev Hynes’ Blood Orange. But Joshua’s Worden’s vocals are what sets his music apart. His voice is reminiscent of José González at times but with delicate enhancements. A more complicated vocal would likely blur the sharp simplicity of the music and production. On Cinders, the understatement and the spaces are what gives it its charm.