Joesef – Permanent Damage

Glasgow vocalist speaks his truth on an excellent debut album…

Joesef has never been one to shrink away into the crowd. Right from the start, he’s sought to speak his truth, no matter the cost. Using lucid, ultra-catchy pop hymns to explore sexuality, class, and a few broken hearts along the way, his opening batch of EPs marked Joesef out as someone doing something genuinely interesting in the pop sphere. Debut album ‘Permanent Damage’ is a coming of age moment, a project that finally affords the songwriter a full canvas to work from.

A record peppered with highlights, ‘Permanent Damage’ is dominated by love, attraction, and attachment. Lyrically, Joesef doesn’t shy away from matters that make himself uncomfortable, choosing to let his feelings settle across the boundaries of a song. Early highlight ‘It’s Been A Little Heavy Lately’ is gorgeous, its 80s sheen the perfect compliment to his wonderfully empathetic vocal.

Songs like ‘Just Come Home With Me Tonight’ revel with lust, but as ‘Didn’t Know How (To Love You)’ proves, Joesef is after something deeper – even if he proves to be an obstacle in his own love life. Pop as therapy session, the album isn’t afraid to delve into darker aspects, but its rooted in an openness that is frequently inspired. ‘Joe’ heads up a strong mid-section, while ‘Blue Car’ transforms your heart-strings into a full-blown orchestra.

The snappy pop-soul of ‘Last Orders’ with its neat guitar line, rolling drums, and peppy Amy Winehouse feel, proves to be irresistible, a smash in the making. The album then rolls out with the lush ‘All Good’, the strings offering Joesef a glimpse of his very own Bond theme, a lush, widescreen finale to a record dominated by pop ambition.

An artist who continually confronts his own emotions, ‘Permanent Damage’ finds Joesef heightening his intentions, and magnifying his aspirations. He’s manifesting pop greatness, and few would bet against him.

8/10

Words: Robin Murray

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