For Josh Cournoyer, a move to Nashville, after being a fixture in the Providence music scene for years, never really erased the scene from his life. This year, Josh has found himself creating his first solo album under the moniker I&R that works to reconcile his feet planted in both worlds. “Nashville taught me to fall in love with my craft, but Providence had always instilled that this thing is ultimately about making art,” Josh muses. “I needed to grow when I moved, both creatively and as a person. Things that I took for granted gave way to a reality that Nashville would be just fine whether I made records or not.”
The name Bankrupt City is just as much a reference to the 2013-era Providence that he left as much as it is a nod to the slowly eroding Nashville of old in favor of slick high-rises and a selling off of the character of the city. In the stark realization that finds its way into any art, nothing is meant to last as we remember it. As Josh sings, “Everything passes, passes away.”
I&R presents Bankrupt City as a collection of folk musings, fast and slow, hard and soft, all with an edge of pause and existential reflection. With a solid foundation in Josh’s rich, literary lyrics and deep, baritone voice reminiscent of The National’s Matt Berninger or Last Good Tooth’s Penn Sultan, Bankrupt City comes together as a collective approach to creating and recording with various players, each having their own expression and a conversation with each other. The collective spirit comes through; Josh shared production duties with fellow a Providence transplant and drummer Mike Poorman (Hot Rod Circuit), as well as multi-instrumentalist Joe Pisapia (Guster, Ben Folds). MorganEve Swain (The Huntress and Holder of Hands, Brown Bird), Arun Bali (Saves The Day), and Zac Clark (Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness) joined I&R in the studio, each lending their unique playing styles to the record.
“I have a small home studio where I did a lot of the initial demos for Bankrupt City. Half the songs had a full band arrangement pretty well roughed out before we started recording, but over the year that we made the record we added a lot,” Josh says. “At least half the people involved in the making of Bankrupt City have Providence roots, [and] having them beside me in making a record in Nashville was one of the greatest thrills of my life.” Attend I&R’s album release show at The Columbus Theatre on July 12.