A onetime troubled teen and drug dealer, British vocalist Josh Osho transformed himself into a soulful folk-pop and hip-hop-influenced singer/songwriter. His 2012 debut album, L.i.f.e, details that transformation and showcases his knack for melodic, heartfelt songs that straddle the line between anthemic folk-rock and R&B. With his burnished, somewhat throaty vocals and talent for detailing life's struggles with a passionate and epic melodicism, Osho brings to mind the work of such similarly inclined contemporaries as John Legend, Amos Lee, and Anthony Hamilton. Tracks like the leadoff "Redemption Days" and the equally as compelling "Giants" have a sweeping, cinematic quality that draws upon the '70s singer/songwriter soul style of such innovators as Terry Callier as much as they do the modern rock uplift of Coldplay. Clearly a musical eclectic, Osho infuses his songs with a bit of hip-hop swagger, as on the sweetly romantic "Homeboy," in which he croons about a girl back home over a strummed acoustic guitar and funky beat. The hip-hop vibe is emphasized with two album-ending mixes featuring guest appearances by rappers Ghostface Killah -- an early champion of Osho's music -- and Childish Gambino. Elsewhere, Osho soars on the sparkling ballad "Imperfections," in which he pines "I'm a little bit wiser and a little bit stronger." Similarly engaging, "Footsteps" is a rhythmically infectious Peter Gabriel-esque jam band groove, with a message of perseverance in which Osho sings "It's one thing to make it, but it's another thing working it out." Ultimately, Osho may have struggled to get to this point in life, but on the album L.i.f.e he definitely works it out.
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AllMusic Review by Matt Collar