Like pale birds, we perch and step lightly, crossing a tricky, long drop zone, our feet balancing on a thin railing.
"Don't look down," Josh Eagle suggests.
I look anyway. Shouldn't have.
Long-limbed Eagle easily climbs to the roof. Turning around, he offers me a hand, pulling me up. For a moment, we sit on the edge. Just for the rush, I peer straight down at the street. Legs dangling, we kick at the building. The air is crisp. I pull my sleeves over my hands. The night, the slight breeze and the view are enough to wrap anyone inside this highly poetic moment.
A quiet scene. A certain heightened energy. And with words, Eagle is truly open, like a spring jacket whipping in the wind. To quote his writing: "I crave more things than I actually should ... I fall in love daily." And it's easy to fall into his soaring, soulful, throaty songs.
From Northside, Eagle's hug is sweeping and unreserved. Left eyebrow pierced, he is dark-haired and dark-eyed, wearing a full beard. Head to toe, he's laidback and gentle. Smoking American Spirits, he talks of Findlay Market, cooking and Dr. Gonzo, his dog.
The conversation is rich in tangents and startlingly personal, a feel that falls into the tunes -- soft, longing, winged Folk. Eagle's gripping voice, touching finger picking and bleeding harmonicas snatch you up like the raw, intimate music of Ray Lamontagne. Soothing and originally raspy, songs hurt and heal, gliding into calmness.
For the past three years, Eagle has been a regular performer at College Hill Coffee Company. He also frequently plays Northside's Boswell Alley.
"It's one of the coolest spots around here, but since it's off the strip, it doesn't get a lot of love," Eagle says.
Recently, Truthful Beginnings rose up as his first album. Released by local Indie label Indicity Records, it was produced by Tommy Cappel and Eagle at AjumpsBshoots recording studio in Norwood. Cappel also plays bass, keys and lead guitar on the album. "He's a virtuoso," Eagle states.
Eagle's CD release show was held at Arnold's this past April. He smiles wide and says, "That was the greatest day of my life. I don't know if it can ever be topped. There was so much love in the room."
Truthful Beginnings is real, personal writing about family, relationships and life, colorfully spread open like a panoramic scene.
"I don't really write any fiction," he says. "This album is everything that has happened to me and around me. Family for me is an insanely huge thing."
Currently seeking a violin player, Eagle will record his next record with a full band. With influences like Neil Young and Nick Drake, Eagle says, "I classify the music as sincere Folk tunes. ... I am slowly coming to realize that I am going to create music in one form or another for the rest of my life. I am A-OK with that. It's a beautiful thing to finally feel secure about something."
Enough of heights. Time to scale the edge of the building. Strangely, coming down is quicker, smoother, easier. Like thieves, we slip in through the window. Grounded. Inside Eagle's apartment, a record spins. And as I head home, I think of the curious effect of sound -- the deep plummet, the rise of new flight. And I recall something Eagle mentioned earlier. When he plays, he said, "I've had people cry before. That's kind of what it's all about -- connecting with someone and sharing that emotion you once had."
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