Joshua Staar
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Joshua Staar

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Band Rock Pop

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Jun
15
Joshua Staar @ Potter's Place

Naperville, Illinois, USA

Naperville, Illinois, USA

May
31
Joshua Staar @ Renaissance Hotel, 1551 Thoreau Dr N Schaumburg, IL 60173

Schaumburg, Illinois, USA

Schaumburg, Illinois, USA

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Discography

Blue Skies Limited Edition EP
Blue Skies Album

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Bio

“I moved out of state with my band with nothing but faith in a dream. We started out with high hopes and thought that if we put in the work we’d see our band go to the top,” Chicago-based pop-rock solo artist Joshua Staar explains. “We had good songs, good recordings, and even good industry contacts, but we had a hard time with our band lineup—there always seemed to be a revolving door and it’s hard to have unity and forward momentum in that kind of environment. Great bands are hard to make work. God knows, I’ve tried. I came to the decision that if this was what I love and wanted to do, then I had to just go out and do it solo.”

Recently, Joshua Staar released his solo debut-it’s a 10-track EP of optimistic and euphorically hooky modern pop-rock. Though it’s mostly a one-man affair, Joshua hasn’t given up his love of the band dynamic—7 tracks feature lush and expansive production evoking elbows-rubbing-elbows full-band chemistry; the remaining 3 tracks revisit core EP cuts in an intimate, acoustic-standalone setting. Joshua applies a Beatles-esque artistic thoroughness to the release with emotionally transporting song arrangements, surprising low-in-the-mix production flourishes, and cleverly accessible lyrics and songcraft.

“My main focus is to do my best to create something great, something people will love. A lot of people have told me I need to be constantly touring, or doing this or that,” he states. “I think having the best product you can have is what really matters. I try and write a great song first, then have a great recording of it. That’s why I’ve taken the time to write, rewrite, arrange, rearrange, record and rerecord, to make sure I haven’t left any stone unturned.”

Joshua is a recording engineer by trade and not only did he pen the songs and play piano and guitar on the recording, he engineered and co-produced the EP with promising Chi-town upstart Stefan Clark. Grammy-winning engineer Jeff Juliano mixed it, accentuating and clarifying its rich and expansive sonic palette. “I tracked Jeff down via Facebook,” Joshua says. “He’s mixed my favorite artists—Jason Mraz, Lifehouse, and John Mayer—and he’s a studio nerd like me.”

“I was 13 when I wrote my first song that was good enough to perform,” he says, recalling finding his footing as a songwriter. “This rush came over me like ‘this is really good, this feels good to me.’ And it’s still the same feeling.”

Joshua started off with piano lessons at 7, studying classical music but offsetting the rigorous structure of the pedagogy with excursions figuring out pop songs and writing his own instrumentals. He discovered his singing voice accidentally, by taking a choir class because he heard it was an easy A. In high school he took up guitar and started playing in bands. His parents favored the folk stylings of Bob Dylan, Cat Stevens, as well as the irresistible pop of The Beatles and Billy Joel. Joshua soaked this up but eventually found currency in modern pop-rock chart toppers. His writing style is a hybrid of both approaches—the songs evident the timeless craft and simplicity that gives the classics staying power but Joshua also favors the modern ambient approach of Coldplay, the sleek dynamics of John Mayer, and bold hooks of The All-American Rejects. Overall it’s an emotionally resonate aesthetic with an old school ear for sonic detail without any retro trappings.

A plaintive piano figure invites you into “Never Too Late,” and from this elegantly essential motif the tune delicately and luxuriously unfolds, reaching Coldplay-esque soaring, atmospheric anthemics. The dynamics of the track are transporting and they appropriately score the journey inherent in the emotional unrest of the lyrics. The tune opens with a grand volley of confusion, angst, and pain. Joshua sings the following lyrics: What is going on/ Life is such a mess (I try but can’t figure it out)/Where did I go wrong/ A slightest mistake/ then escalates, leaves no escape. By the chorus he finds comfort and resolution hinging on the following lyrics: You know it’s never too late/Fingers crossed just in case/ Find the right words to say, and I’ll make it okay/ Though some say there’s no point/ Give up no other choice/ I still believe.

“I tend to write about relationships,” Joshua explains. “I’ve learned how to harness the heartbreak and put them into my songs. With my own stuff and others, I’ve seen a lot of people close to me implode and hurt or ruin their lives through neglect, messy divorces, drug additions, and suicide.”

On “Surrender” Joshua builds dramatic anticipation by layering—the tune opens with a vulnerable piano figure but ends up swelling to an emotional U2-esque climax with strategically placed chimey guitars, a tasteful electro beat, and angelic backup vocals bridging the contrasting moods. There’s a comforting innocence to Joshua’s vocals, his melodies have a purity and clarity and the timbre of his singing conveys a sense of wonder and