With its title alone, Few of Days & Full of Trouble likely evokes a range of familiar emotions. The debut full-length album from Pennsylvania singer-songwriter Josh Travis, this remarkable album is a juxtaposition of belief and reality, personal struggles, and the weight of loss, carrying listeners on a captivating journey through his restless spirit. Yet, through it all, a glimmer of hope shines — a testament to Travis’s unyielding faith in God. The brevity of life weaves its way through the songs, reminding us to cherish every fleeting moment.
“Secondhand Smoke” kicks the record off in style; a working-class folk rock anthem with a soaring chorus reminding us to take pride in our lot in life, lest we miss the forest for the trees in chasing perceived societal expectations. The spaghetti-western epic “Poor Johnny” and the blazing honky-tonk number “The Only Good In Me” show that Travis isn’t afraid to lean on traditional country elements here, either. Bluegrass influences make themselves apparent in multiple moments, with the heart-wrenching vignette “Opequon” and the title track providing perhaps the most direct examples.
These songs were born over a 4-5 year timeframe, with Travis sitting at home, guitar in lap, between 2017 and 2021. “I knew I wanted to capture these songs as best as we could,” Travis stated, highlighting the deep personal connection he had with the material. As the project took shape, the overarching concepts and themes became apparent, solidifying the album’s direction.
The album was recorded at Music Garden Studios in New Brighton, PA, with Travis spending sporadic periods over a year and a half perfecting each track. “I wanted to pour everything I could into it,” Travis notes, acknowledging the significance of this project as his first full-length LP.
Having already performed most of these songs live with his band, Travis aimed to capture their essence while also pushing for a grander sound. With the addition of instruments like organ, steel, and fiddle, Travis found the support he needed through the connections of producer Al Torrence.
The recording approach for the album aimed to preserve the organic energy of his four-piece band. The experience of being in the same room with his bandmates and capturing the essence of their live performances lends itself to a warm and authentic energy throughout the record, serving to elevate Travis’s songwriting within.
Having released his debut EP six years ago, Travis acknowledges that Few of Days & Full of Trouble represents a shift in approach, and perhaps a long-overdue follow-up for this exceptionally talented artist. However, he sees it as a necessary period of growth. “As I got older and grew as a songwriter, I feel like I’ve settled into where I should be,” he shared. Travis’s musical journey has led him to this defining moment — a half-decade of time to hone his craft as a songwriter sees him stepping back into the frame neither too early nor too late, but in the moment that feels right for him.
With Few of Days & Full of Trouble, Josh Travis is making a statement. His evocative and enchanting melodies, combined with deeply personal lyrics sown across universally-accessible themes, bear the hallmarks of a songwriter in his prime. This album serves as a stark yet optimistic reminder to us all: while our time on this earth is short and often difficult, there is endless rest and joy to be found beyond ourselves, namely, in God through Jesus Christ, for today and when this life is over.