When Josh Rennie-Hynes moved to Nashville last year, he wasn’t just leaving behind his Australian homeland, he was leaving behind the country where he’d kicked off his solo career with two acclaimed albums, before finding an international audience as one half of The Ahern Brothers. A folk duo, whose harmony-heavy, self-titled debut album earned a four-star review from Rolling Stone, Josh and partner Steve Grady quickly garnered comparisons to Simon and Garfunkel, The Everley Brothers and the Milk Carton Kids. They became an in-demand touring act and the two could have easily ridden their wave of success even higher. But, instead, Josh decided he was looking for a change — not only in musical direction but in location, too. “When I moved to Nashville, I think I knew one or two people. It was all quite unknown to me but that’s what I loved about it. Artistically and personally, I was ready for something new.”
With help from the Australian Council for the Arts, who awarded Josh with the Nashville Songwriters Residency grant, he packed up his life and headed to Music City. There, Josh found a place that differed greatly from the rural, small-town farmland of his childhood. Inspired, he got to work, immersing himself in the city’s musical culture while steadily piecing together a full band. After years of solo gigs and duo shows, he was ready for a much bigger sound. Moving into the close-knit East Nashville community, he found himself energized by the genre-hopping music scene and the multitude of shows happening every night. “I’d check out shows constantly, then I’d wake up every morning and play my guitar, and something always seemed to come through. Songs started piecing themselves together, and eventually, I had enough to start putting together the record and figuring out who I wanted to play on it with me.”
With an album’s worth of songs written and his recording band assembled, he headed to Nashville’s world-famous Sound Emporium studios. 2019’s Patterns marks Josh Rennie-Hynes’ most indie rock-oriented album to date. There are layers of electric guitar, swirling keys, and pounding percussion, all wrapped around a voice that swoons and swaggers in equal measure. Raised in a musical household filled with rock & roll records, country classics, and harmony-heavy staples, Josh draws a line between his past and present, nodding to his influences while pushing forward into a modern and bold territory.
Produced by guitarist Alex Munoz (Margo Price, Nikki Lane), Patterns also features performances from drummer Allen Jones (Lilly Hiatt, Will Hoge), bassist Christopher Griffiths (Will Hoge), keyboardist Micah Hulscher (Margo Price), and a duet with Americana sensation Erin Rae. The group tracked each song to analog tape, focusing on live takes and inspired performances. Within three days, Patterns was finished. The result is an album that’s both electrifying and immediate, from the crashing, minor-key melancholia of “Standing Still” to the warm, stripped-down acoustics of the album’s folky closer, “Home to You.” Along the way, Josh recounts LSD trips (“Stay”), weighs the cost of chasing one’s ambitions (“Caught in a Dream”), and races against the clock (“Borrowing Time”), telling the story not only of the modern world but of his place within it.
In his short time in the US, Josh has already been covered by Paste, Wide Open Country, MXDWN, and had a full layout feature in last fall’s No Depression print issue, not to mention NPR’s Bob Boilen showed up for one of his Americanafest sets. With 2019’s Patterns, he makes a compelling case for taking the road less traveled. Whatever genre you’d like to call it, this is music at its most engaging, written by an artist whose travels, heartbreaks, trials, and triumphs have molded his sound into unique shapes. These Patterns are all his own.
“Leading with yearning, guitar tones that are instantly redolent of the song’s philosophical nature, the artist sells it with its wishful chorus, sifting through the ebb and flow that our lives all inherently produce.” –PopMatters
“Chock full of tight progressions, emulsive emotions, lyrical poetry, and beautifully expressive vocal attentions by Josh.” – Comeherefloyd
“This is straight-up Americana songwriting, with Rennie-Hynes voice accompanied by a cracking band!” – Timber & Steel
“A voice that swoons and swaggers in equal measure…Melds the narrative lyrical style of Josh Ritter and Gillian Welch’s knack for lonesome prairie harmonies.” – Glide Magazine
“Rennie-Hynes writes such clear and refreshing blues music.”- Ear to the Ground