ALBUM REVIEW: Josh Pyke – ‘Rome’

Words by Shannon-Lee Sloane – The Colourful Writer

When I think of great Australian storytellers, the very first that comes to mind is Josh Pyke. Not only is he an amazing musician, but his wizard-like way with words is wondrous. Being a writer and having a driving desire to write as often as possible, Josh’s natural writing abilities are an inspiration. So when the opportunity arose to review his latest album, I was incredibly keen, despite the fact I am currently so swamped with writing work, there’s little time for anything else. Lucky I love this huh? 

Josh Pyke has been gifting our world with his music and tales since 2000. 20 years later, he is set to release his sixth studio album on Friday August 28, ‘Rome’ via Wonderlick Entertainment / Sony Music Entertainment Australia. His first album in five years. 

Many moons ago, I sat and intently listened to Middle Of The Hill and Lines On Palms. And then not long after came my personal all time favourite, The Summer which is still on high rotation on my regular playlists. Josh’s music has been with me for a good part of my adult life, it has made me smile on days when all I wanted to do was cry, or cry when I needed a release. And now, in the middle of a global pandemic and uncertain, anxiety riddled times, his new album again offers me solace; an escape from reality. A chance to tune out to the world and tune into the music. 

The album opens with Old Times Sake. You can hear Josh’s fingers softly moving along the guitar strings as he sings with his recognizably strong yet delicate voice that any fan would know and love. An instant appreciation and acknowledgment for this new collection of songs overwhelms me from this very moment. Doubting Thomas is next: “Have you heard about the ones who doubted? How they ran their fingers over your scars? Somehow they can make their shadows taller. It’s like trying to read a book in the dark…” I am drawn in by the words from the first verse. Doubting Thomas was released as a single back in April. This song is one of my favourites from the album. 

Back in 2017, when Josh was celebrating ten years since the release of ‘Memories & Dust’, I had the absolute honour and pleasure of interviewing him. To this day, it is one of my favourite interviews I have ever done. (You can read it here and please excuse the formatting, it was early days for our website and I did not do the editing on this one) Of almost all the musicians, bands and music folk I have interviewed over the years, my interview with Josh is one I will always remember. He was polite, well spoken, friendly, relaxed and happy to chat about his musical career. His manner made me feel calm and he was so easy and enjoyable to talk to, I could have chatted to him for hours. His music gives the same feeling. There’s a comfort, a calmness. Josh’s personality shines through in his music. And I could certainly listen to it for hours (and have done many times).

I Thought We Were A River takes the pace up a notch, this one will have you grooving along to the music and singing along to the “Wooohooohohhs” in the chorus. Home is next, released as a single from the album back in May, to a warm response from fans. Beautiful lyrics again that just warm my heart: “Home, find a place to lie. Feel the earth it’s spinning underneath you. We are all held tight, the gravity. We are all bound to collide. So think of me sometime. When you’re out beyond the breakers, I wish you open eyes. Coz I’m asleep til you get home…”

Still We Carry On has a certain darkness to it, but at the same time, it has a light. Like a well written blues song but with a happy ending of sorts, there’s a sadness but there is light at the end of the tunnel of this tale. Because, no matter what life gives us, still, we carry on. Don’t Let It Wait comes with a music video featuring a beautiful elderly woman dancing to the song. The motto of this one, clearly being, to not wait on things, life is short, do whatever it is you want to do, and do it now. This track was released as a single in June. 

The Closing Eye has an ethereal sound to it. Heavenly vocals, guitars and sounds that combined deliver a gossamer-like song. The most recent single, You’re My Colour has had the biggest and most welcomed response so far from the singles released and has joined Josh’s other most listened to songs on Spotify. To me, this is a love song of sorts. I have a feeling, perhaps about his children. At the beginning of his lyric book (available on his website) it says the album is “For my sweetheart and my cubs”; a beautiful dedication. 

I Don’t Know has a timeless sound to it, reminding me a little of a Beatles style track, something from the past, now in the present. A classic feel that never grows tired or old. This song has the addition of an accordion and a trumpet which certainly add to its beauty. Old Songs Now has an overwhelming sadness to it, the string section as it begins sets that mood. This track has many layers to it, there’s quite a build in the middle and for me, it feels as though it moves from sadness to encouragement. 

The closing track, Where Goes The Girl reminds me of a Bon Iver style song. This is another stand out for me. The plucking of guitar strings in harmony with Josh’s vocals here is flawless. The strings section at the end of this song is just divine as it fades out and ends the album. 

Josh Pyke has embodied his creative side, through his music, his writing and many other creative endeavours and ventures. He has written children’s books, one of which he wrote with the beautiful and also multi-talented Justine Clarke. He has collaborated with many other wonderful musicians to write and release music and he owns his own recording studio, Timshel Industries. He also runs the JP Partnership grant. Oh and he’s even starred in the iconic Australian children’s TV show, Playschool. And that is just to name a few things.

Josh Pyke is one incredibly talented, creative and busy man, but he seems to take it all in his stride. His latest album, ‘Rome’ is just another feather in his cap and it’s now another album I will gladly welcome to my regular playlist. 


Josh Pyke’s ‘Fans First Tour’ commences in October in Brisbane. More details can be found HERE.

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With thanks to On The Map PR

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