Music Album Review: Josie Lowder’s “Here To Love” — Extraordinary Guitar Playing, Soulful Vocals, and Buoyant Personality

By Jason M. Rubin

Josie Lowder debut solo album “Here To Love” is more than a reminder of how good she was — it stands as incontrovertible evidence that she has grown as an artist and especially as a songwriter.

Cover art by Josie Lowder

If you were lucky enough to catch the immensely talented Josie Lowder during her four-year stay in the Boston area (2015-2019), either headlining small local gigs or popping up at blues jams, you no doubt have missed her extraordinary guitar playing, soulful vocals, and buoyant personality. The bad news is that the Springfield, Illinois-based artist has no plans to move back here anytime soon. But the good news is that she has just released her debut solo album Here To Love and it is more than a reminder of how good she was — it stands as incontrovertible evidence that she has grown as an artist and especially as a songwriter.

When bass phenom Tal Wilkenfeld released her solo album, Love Remains, in 2019, one had every reason to believe it would be full of the brilliant playing that made her Jeff Beck’s bassist of choice for years. It was a pleasant surprise, then, to hear all these wonderful love songs she’d written and sung with real passion, and only one featuring a bass solo. That is similar to Here To Love, which has only two real burners on it but lots of gorgeous songs brought to life by Lowder’s dexterous fingers and a voice that cuts straight to your spine.

“This album is definitely more true to my acoustic roots and centers around songs from my family that shaped my childhood,” she says. “I have a feeling the next one will be more rock and roll.”

Indeed, Lowder’s childhood was steeped in music and the album features contributions from her father Jaigh, a very talented guitarist who appears on five songs, and her mother Peggy. In fact, Here To Love was recorded at Jaigh’s studio in Petersburg, IL. Peggy’s contribution, music and lyrics for “Pretty Valentine,” was, according to Josie, “one of the first songs that I ever remember my mom singing with my dad’s jazz trio.”

As for Lowder herself, she absolutely owns this album by performing acoustic and electric guitars, mandolin, ukulele, bass, violin, piano, and flute, along with lead and background vocals. She excels at all of them, even performing a lovely flute solo on the Rickie Lee Jones-y “Instant in Forever.” She also produced and mixed the album with her father, and created the album art and graphic design. Four of the 11 songs feature only Lowder; just five include drums, yet each track feels lush and full. You hang on to each word she sings so meaningfully, and thrill to her nimble, well-articulated picking.

Two of the songs are written by a friend, Jill Manning. The first, “Take the Money,” is a country-ish song that chugs along so well with Lowder and Jaigh on guitars that it doesn’t need drums. The second, “Fairy Tale,” features Manning on co-lead vocals. Like “Pretty Valentine,” it’s a gentle shuffle about love, and it features this dandy couplet: “Cinderella’s got nothing but an old pair of shoes/Sleeping Beauty’s just a girl with nothing else to do.”

Josie Lowder Band in 2018. Photo: Bridget Shaw Photography

Lowder’s impressive vocal range and expressive voice are shown to great effect on “Golden Wings” and “Into the Night.” Both are one-woman shows, with Lowder doing all the writing, playing, and singing herself. The former also features a jazzy electric guitar solo. The album’s two rockers are the existential “Road of Life” and the seven-minute epic “Too Heavy to Fly.” On both, Lowder rips off more great electric solos — though her playing on all stringed instruments is exceptional.

Here To Love begins and ends with beautiful ballads. The opener, which is the title track, is a heartfelt love song on which she accompanies herself on acoustic guitar and violin. The closer, “The Day After,” is a duet with Lowder and her father both playing acoustic guitars. Says Lowder, “My dad composed ‘The Day After’ the day after his mother died. I wanted to include that one not only because it is one of my favorites of his, but because my Grandma Vivian taught herself to play guitar and that is what inspired my dad as a little boy to learn to play. He said she would sit around and fingerpick old Hank Williams tunes. I found that so cool that she taught herself.”

That love of music and sheer talent was clearly passed on to Josie Lowder as well. Here To Love was funded through a Kickstarter campaign that started in 2022; hopefully that second, more rocking, album comes before too long — and if Josie ever makes it back to Boston, that will certainly be an occasion to break out the hats and hooters.

You can purchase Here To Love at her website.

Jason M. Rubin has been a professional writer for nearly 40 years. He has written for Arts Fuse since 2012. Jason’s first novel, The Grave & The Gay, based on a 17th-century English folk ballad, was published in September 2012. Ancient Tales Newly Told, released in March 2019, includes an updated version of his first novel along with a new work of historical fiction, King of Kings, about King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. His latest book, Villainy Ever After (2022), is a collection of classic fairy tales told from the point of view of the villains. Jason is a member of the New England Indie Authors Collective and holds a BA in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.


  1. Steve Lillienstein on May 14, 2024 at 10:05 pm

    Nice piece!

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