Permanent Damage is the impressive debut album from Scottish singer-songwriter Joesef (released January 2023). Full of emotion and raw lyrics about loneliness and heartbreak, this is a must-listen collection of soulful pop.
“Permanently on my own / I think I miss Glasgow,” Joesef’s voice rings out on ‘East End Coast’, the third track on the Glaswegian’s debut album. Uprooted, unmoored: ‘Permanent Damage’ is an unravelling of the self, disappearing into the bare bones of who Joesef truly is after a complete shattering of the heart. Picking up the pieces, on ‘Permanent Damage’, Joesef undergoes a journey of absolute turmoil and teaches you how to live with what comes next. At times, Joesef’s voice aches with despair and tenderness, pleading in the twilight hours on ‘Just Come Home With Me’. Then he twists, shapeshifting into the unapologetic, bold Joesef we meet on ‘Didn’t Know How To Love You’, with its funk-leaning, drumbeat driven soundscape. There’s never any indication of which version of himself Joesef might slide into next – he might exist grinning in the centre of the dancefloor or slipping along dark streets, inhaling melancholia. There is a surety to ‘Permanent Damage’, however, in the sheer force of lyricism at play. With soulful, silk-like vocals, Joesef weaves this narrative, deftly dealing the blows of this world in absolute destruction, before showing that ultimately, some marks never fade and that’s OK.
Joesef is an astute and exquisitely raw lyricist, and the crux of his writing arrives in small details: from the heady rush of day drinking to a casual exchange of words with a new flame. ‘Blue Car’’s richly layered harmonies tell a tale of broken power dynamics, while the album’s powerful standout ‘Joe’ recalls the intensity of a teenage relationship. “I was eighteen and screaming and feeling it all,” he sings with real verve over a subtle acoustic guitar line that brings to mind the textures of The La’s debut.
The Line of Best Fit says:
Sparking the album alight, title track “Permanent Damage” immediately sets the bar ludicrously high for the remainder of the album. Composed simply from a score that delicately beckons the Scotsman’s angelic falsetto vocals, it’s a creation that becomes the perfect set up for what’s yet to come. Unlike previous EP’s and singles which sat comfortably with low-swung guitar hooks and head-nodding production, the record takes the brave step into the unknown, with new entrances from orchestral sections and cinematic valiance. The rose-tinted “Apartment 22” is no exception, abundant with heaven-sent strings and charming horn sections, the track even contains the dulcet tones of Elbow front-man Guy Garvey, featuring in the harmonious chorus.
Give the album a spin by streaming it on Spotify below: