Josh Kaufman, Song of the Day: “If I Ran the Zoo”


Local Indianapolis singer and songwriter Josh Kaufman digs into his childhood roots with this track from his 2019 album.

This week, we’ve been taking a look around at some of the best talent that Indianapolis has to offer. We started off the week by listening to Porch Kat, the young and emerging new jam band. On Tuesday, we heard Alex Beckman’s grunge-inspired, “Second Best”. And yesterday, we listened to the track “You Should Dance”, from the Nouveaurees’ new album.

For our song of the day today, we’re moving on to the realm of R&B, funk, soul, and rock. But before we get into “I Ran the Zoo”, let’s first take a chance to learn a little about Josh Kaufman.

Josh Kaufman

Josh Kaufman is truly a unique voice in Indianapolis, and has some serious experience to back it up. In 2014, on a whim, Kaufman competed on NBC’s “The Voice”, and ended up winning the whole thing. What’s the season six winner of “The Voice” doing in Indianapolis? Well, writing and playing music, of course.

After competing on “The Voice”, Kaufman decided to settle in in Indianapolis, and work with a group of friends he’d known for years. This included award-winning songwriter, producer, and recording artist Bleu McAuley, who, coincidentally, produced Kaufman’s 2019 album, “NDOXO Vol. 1”.

Josh Kaufman’s music is emotionally direct and intense. Rather than stay put in one style or genre, Kaufman prefers to mash up everything in music that he loves, and bring it all together. In his music, you can hear elements of rock, pop, jazz, folk, and soul. He describes himself as the combination of the deep-rooted soul of D’Angelo, the emotional delivery of Jeff Buckley, and the musical eclecticism of Beck.

Kaufman first release was his self-titled debut EP, which came out in 2017. Riding on the coattails of that was the EP compilation, “Silent”, released in the same year. Kaufman’s debut studio album, “NDOXO Vol. 1” was recorded in Velveteen Laboratory in L.A., and came out last April.

NDOXO Vol. 1

Josh Kaufman’s “NDOXO Vol. 1” is a tribute to the ’80s and ’90s R&B era that he grew up in. This album explores sounds inspired by the likes of Prince, Janet Jackson, Babyface, Brian McKnight, Boyz II Men, and countless other stars of R&B and soul. But it isn’t a total throwback album. Kaufman frequently adds modern elements to these tracks, while at the same time retaining the core sound from his childhood.

If I Ran the Zoo

“If I Ran the Zoo” is an upbeat, funky soul track with a seemingly boundless amount of energy to it. If you’re looking for a song to get your blood moving during the cold winter months, this is the one.

The variety of sounds heard throughout “If I Ran the Zoo” include synth, keyboard, funk guitar and bass, and some soul background singers. But the most powerful sound by far is that of Kaufman’s own voice. His four octave range and distinctive vocals come out both clear and strong. Writing credits for the song go to Josh Kaufman, Bleu McAuley, and Andrew Jackson.

The lyrics to “If I Ran the Zoo” seem to be advocating for freedom from social conventions, with references to working that “nine to five”.

“We might walk that road just to discover / Ain’t no rainbow or pot of gold / Come on my sisters and my brothers / Don’t gotta do what we’re told, don’t gotta do what we’re told”.

“If I ran the zoo, I know what I’d do / I’d throw open all the cages / Let the people dance / Making sweet romance / I’d take those chains and break ’em”.

Final Thoughts

If you’re into R&B, soul, or funk, there’s no way you want to miss out on what Josh Kaufman offers in “If I Ran the Zoo”. His work is just another example of the wealth of talent that Indy has to offer.

For more R&B and ’80s -’90s inspired music, be sure to listen to the rest of “VDOXO Vol. 1”. You can find out more about Josh Kaufman by visiting his website.

For more coverage on Indy music, be sure to check out the LemonWire Music Corner, where we’re showcasing local Indianapolis artists.

Are there any local Indy artists you’d like to see covered here on LemonWire? If so, drop a comment down below and let us know.


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