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  • Al Stephens

Josh Rennie-Hynes Meshes Flesh and Machine on new album LIGHT/SHADE

In the heart of Nashville, amidst the bustling creativity of the East Nashville community, Australian-born indie-pop artist Josh Rennie-Hynes has crafted LIGHT/SHADE, his most daring and exploratory album to date. Over his five-year residency in the country music capital, Rennie-Hynes has seamlessly transitioned from his roots in Americana singer-songwriter territory to embrace a more electronic soundscape.

The authenticity embedded in Rennie-Hynes' music is the defining thread throughout his career, and LIGHT/SHADE is no exception. The album, born during a period of profound personal change and growth, bears a striking urgency, with Rennie-Hynes fearlessly laying bare his feelings. "I was falling in love when I was writing this album," he says, reflecting on a time of questioning boundaries and navigating a foreign country far from his Australian roots. The result is a collection of songs that demand attention.

Collaborating with producer Kyle Henderson, Rennie-Hynes meticulously crafted LIGHT/SHADE over six months, delving deeper into electronic sounds while maintaining his foundation as a songwriter. As with its title, it's a record that plays with the idea of dichotomy both lyrically and sonically. It's powerful yet vulnerable, intense yet reflective, deep yet accessible.

The album kicks off with "Fucking with My Head" which feels like being lost in complicated thoughts while wandering neon-filled night streets. "Head in the Clouds" has the DNA of Post Malone, but with darker edges. The sexy and pulsating "When We Touch" is another track for nighttime driving as you and your lover bounce from party to party. The video uses the seductive imagery of blood red lips, kissing, touching, and Rennie-Hynes in party vans and dancing down urban streets with his face painted silver and sparkling, presumably moments before the sun comes up.

"Do You Ever" has the lyrics, "Late night / driving through the streets of your hometown" solidifying the theme of embracing the freedom of youth. It's the type of song that feels like a flashback to the summer that changed your life. "Into My Arms" is a straight club banger that has echoes of Diplo, but carries the personal charm that Rennie-Hynes seems to pull off so effortlessly. He makes us feel like a song like this, that could be universal, is a secret glimpse into his life. "Is it in the Water" brings us back to that moment of first loves, that joy of connecting with someone in deep, meaningful ways.

Album standout is the dreampop "Morning Stars." Its gentle strings and laid-back beat are comforting and cozy. The video finds Rennie-Hynes waking up in the mountains, donning a spacesuit and traveling to the city. He explores the lights, people and space until finding a delightfully cardboard-crafted housing of a rocket. Its visuals reflect the social and metaphorical urban exploration that the LP constantly returns to.

The final three songs seem to lament the end of relationships, while ruminating on loneliness, even if Rennie-Hynes was the cause. There's a sadness to the break-up song "Right Now." It tackles the frustration and confusion of the moments immediately after a relationship ends. "Rainbows" is about pushing people away, maybe even when you don't want to. The album ends with "When it's Gone," a slow burner with the song's electronic elements complementing the humanity of Rennie-Hynes' vocals. Lyrically, there's sorrow in this walk home, his flesh-and-blood moving through the cold metal of traffic at night. LIGHT/SHADE encapsulates the dichotomy inherent in all of us—the interplay of light and shade within. It stands as a testament to Rennie-Hynes' artistic courage, pushing beyond defined norms to evolve. This is a record that could define the lives of the kids who listen to it today. This album will feel like a testimony to our lives decades from now, in the same way that our grandparents look back at their own basement parties on 16mm film reels. LIGHT/SHADE is obviously deeply personal for Rennie-Hynes, but it's a document of this very moment for all of us who don't take this world for granted.

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