Josiah Leming

Angels Undercover

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During his short time on American Idol, Josiah Leming always seemed to walk the line between unchecked confidence and outright depression, either beaming at the judges' approval or lapsing into tears whenever they criticized his performance. His elimination during the semi-finals might've ruffled some feathers amongst the show's die-hard fans, but it was still a smart decision, since someone as noticeably fragile as Josiah (who was the glorified equivalent of a teenaged runaway, having left home to travel the country in his car) might've completely come apart under the pressure of prime-time TV. Even so, Josiah surprised everyone by pulling himself together and securing a contract with Warner Bros, a label with considerably more credibility and experience than Idol's own record company. More surprises are dished out on this five-song EP, which serves as an appetizer to the singer's full-length debut. Angels Undercover presents Josiah as an artist -- not an adolescent boy with a flair for double-fisted piano chords, but a genuine songwriter, with melodic twists and articulate turns-of-phrase to boot. He flips into his falsetto on "Arctic Outcry Wind," perhaps the brightest pop song here, before crooning his way through the subsequent ballads, which run the gamut from angsty anthems ("Theysay") to quiet tearjerkers (the titular "Angels Undercover"). "To Run" is the only track to betray Josiah's age, but those three minutes of teenage melodrama do little to erase the 15 minutes of promising songcraft that precede it.

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