Review: Martyn Joseph – Songs For The Coming Home

 

There’s obviously something special about Martyn Joseph, that’s clear from the off, because there has to be something special about an artist nowadays if they have had a consistently successful 30 year music career. With a voice somewhere between Bob Dylan, Tom Waits and Bruce Springsteen he has forged a reputation for being one of the best live folk/rock/americana (and everything in between those) acts around today and it would probably be easier to list the people he hasn’t toured with than go through the list of tour partners he’s had, which includes legends such as Art Garfunkel, Ani DiFranco and Joan Armatrading. His new album Songs For The Coming Home is his 18th studio album, but, as you may have guessed, shows no signs of his passion or intelligence waning.

The beauty of Martyn Joseph’s music has always been in his effortlessly heartfelt lyrics which, coupled with the ethereal quality of his instrumentation, is instantly affecting and he has a great talent in making seemingly simple songs have such an empowering effect as they wash over you. The album opener Crossing the Line is no exception as two minutes of soft guitar picking and a wall of deep resonant sound break into Joseph’s deep vocals, and after five minutes you already feel like you have been truly welcomed into the album. Songs For The Coming Home quickly takes a more rhythmical turn through Beyond Us, which treats us to blasting trumpets and a powerful political chorus that will no doubt be screamed back at him on tour. There definitely seems to be a more accessible side of Joseph coming through on this record, and it isn’t hard to imagine songs like Beyond Us and the soft, choral chant of Still A Lot Of Love Around Here becoming radio and festival favourites, along with the toe-tapping Feels Like This, which bounces along with layers of joyful violin and another chorus made to get a crowd going. It certainly is an album that has its fair share of strong leading songs.

But it is, of course, in his lyricism and eloquent storytelling that Martyn Joseph finds his true strength, and the album is littered with songs as beautiful and hopeful as he has ever made. Falling From Grace and Clara are two particularly emotive tracks, both having a strong cinematic quality to them, as if his passionate tales are being played out in front of you. Falling From Grace is the type of song that would silence a whole field of people; it’s haunting style lingers beautifully and there is unwavering sincerity in every word. His passion never dwindles but seems to grow as the album goes on, and it is obvious that he has carefully crafted each song and fully believes every word he sings. Album closer Archive is bursting with emotion as Joseph puts everything into it vocally to make it one of the most honest, raw and stripped back tracks in his back catalogue. It is a great ending to a great album from a man who truly knows himself and how to turn his insightful and relevant ideals into great, earnest music. Martyn Joseph has proved himself once again as a relatively hidden, but still very valuable, treasure.

Josh King