Just for the sake of change, Joshua Kadison cut his long, dirty-blond locks. It wasn’t a bold statement, an act of rebellion or a conscious effort to conform.
He simply cut his hair. What’s the big deal?
“It’s really funny what an issue it’s become, which is fascinating to me,” the Los Angeles-area singer-songwriter said recently. “I guess fascinating is the appropriate word because I have never been conscious of my physical presence, per se. And apparently a lot of people were.”
Perhaps now that he’s sporting a serious look – short, cropped hair and a scraggy goatee – fans of the sensitive troubadour might think he has lost his flair for impassioned songs of love, faith and hope.
Not in the least.
Kadison’s second SBK/EMI album, “Delilah Blue,” is cut not far from the mold of his 1993 platinum-selling debut, “Painted Desert Serenade,” which evoked vocal comparisons to Elton John, Billy Joel, Harry Chapin and Jim Croce (namely on his hits “Jessie” and “Beautiful In My Eyes”).
On “Delilah Blue,” however, gospel/soul-tinged songs such as “Take It On Faith” (the first single), “Amsterdam” and “Listen to the Lambs” set him apart from that crowd.
His affinity for R&B waxes romantically through each track.
“Elements of soul are in everything,” Kadison said. “Not just the fact that I loved Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield and Smokey Robinson, you name it, but that it’s there in Chet Baker’s playing, it’s there in Miles Davis’ playing.
“I just find it very hard the way people really split up things and try to make everything this very antiseptic, scientific division in something that’s much more round-edged. … Where my soul influences come from, where my gospel influences come from, they come from me loving music.
“The thing about it is, at the core, I don’t think gospel or soul music is the exclusive music of a people, like a race. The coolest thing I ever heard was from Bobby Womack. He said, ‘You know what, soul music is feeling. Gospel music is feeling. You can’t say that we (black people) are the only ones who can feel.’ It’s a universal experience. It doesn’t matter who you are.”
Artists mine their feelings, Kadison said, telling tales of their soul at any given time. On “Delilah Blue,” he travels similar terrain but goes out of his way to avoid repetition from the double-platinum success of “Painted Desert Serenade.” He assembled a live studio setting, finished the tracks in a relatively short time and added string arrangements to some cuts.
“I would be very saddened if I knew I was just going to keep on writing and recording songs just like songs I had done before,” he said. “That would be like going to the same dinner party over and over again. You know that movie ‘Groundhog Day’? It would like living the same day over and over.
“The joy and the excitement of life is going in and rearranging whatever materials you’re given to work with, whether it’s sound or paint or clay. You go in and you arrange according to your moods and the way you feel about the world.”