Andrew Bird has some competition. Joe Kye is violinist-looper who leads the project Joseph In the Well. The recent self-titled six-song EP Joseph in the Well is a perfectly produced introduction that puts violin and vocals at the center and is supported by guitar, lush string loops, upright bass and percussion. These songs at their core are pop songs that sizzle with exuberance. The strings are vibrant, the percussion is dynamic and the melodies are infectious. Joseph in the Well is a exceptional EP and one heck of a debut that showcases an artist that with a little bit of luck and know how will be a common name in underground circles if not more.
There is a lot to enjoy here so just press play and enjoy. The EP starts with an intro entitled “Intro.” You hear a field recording with the sound of birds and lonely violin that makes a beautiful chasm of sound. The plucked string reminded me of “Girl/Boy Song” from Aphex Twin but the emotional resonance is felt when the lush reverbed laced orchestration make its presence known.
I wasn’t expecting any hip-hop after the first song but that's what I got on “Happy Song feat. Rasar.” Rasar raps after the initial verse and he is quite good. That being said, if I have one minor complaint it’s that his style felt a little juxtaposed in a way that didn’t quite work to the light, almost carefree way the music is. The music is exceptional in many ways. Strings flourish with horns and it is unequivocally fantastic. Kye sings on this one and sounds great.
“Clear Eyes” is hyperbolically upbeat and mimics the mood one might have after realizing that they have fallen in love. It’s jazzy, swings and Kye seems really happy to be there. The remaining three songs are incredibly strong. “Joseph Rests His Head” introduces a bit of melancholy and it sounds great. It's never overbearing and Kye is able to keep it light and even hopeful. As the song progresses it made my ears perk up and suddenly I wished I were in Paris dancing by a river.
“11-8” was my favorite track out of the six. There is an Andrew Bird vibe on this song but it doesn’t feel derivative. Kye delivers his most memorable vocal lines and melodies. He nails it when he sings, “I make mistakes, so do you.” The song climaxes over and over again towards the end.
He closes with a gorgeous track entitled “Ashes (feat. Sandra Dolores).” Kye writes his best lyrics on this track. He is poignant, detailed, ambiguous and poetic. Lines like “Your painted plain displeasure framed in an old white square then she of her desire will slay me love speaks clear to you to you” blurs meaning but other lyrics are sharp, clear and visceral like “will you come back for me will you come back will you.”
Joseph in the Well is complex but feels elegantly simple. It’s effortless to enjoy and you still feel its effect after it’s gone. There isn’t enough material out by the artist to make any declarations but there may be something very special and unique about his music.
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