by Ryan Casey
It would be something of an understatement to say that folk has been undergoing a revival for the best part of five years now. The incredible rise of indie-folk acts, such as Mumford & Sons, and Laura Marling, have seen a refreshing emergence of interest in some of the lesser explored corners of the genre, and the success of such acts can only be a reassurance to new artists that the road of folk is one well worth travelling.
One of these new artists is Cardiff-born songwriter, Joshua Caole, who releases his debut album “Moon Palace” this month. Much of the album was written on late, sleepless nights during the seemingly endless journey of touring during 2011, and this much is evident from the heartfelt, nocturnal sound of the opening tracks.
“Pleased to Have You” opens in familiar territory to folk fans, with the combination of acoustic guitar and drums reminiscent of Bombay Bicycle Club’s sophomore album, “Flaws”. It is when Caole’s vocals hit in that the song really begins to take shape. His subtle, fragile tone adds a soothing layer to the music, perfectly capturing the emotion of a moment late at night, when the mind takes control and thoughts begin to run wild. Lines such as “But I’m always pleased to have you, at least, I guess”, exquisitely capture the frustration of having to settle for a situation, Caole singing the words with tenderness and meaning.
The second track from “Moon Palace”, “Sweet Sweet Eyes” finds itself more on the pop-rock side of proceedings, with forceful drumming, and an electric guitar featuring in a much more prominent role. The result is similarly convincing, however, and evidence that Joshua is more than capable of delving through a slightly varied generic repertoire successfully. His trademark emotional lyrics once again find a place in this song, and Caole’s voice is even more vulnerable as it comes out of its shell.
“Butterfly”, the final track in our preview, reverts to folkier territory again, and is perhaps the highlight of the trio. Beautiful work on acoustic guitar guides the track here, perfectly accompanied by Joshua Caole’s tortured vocals, as he makes no attempt to hold back at bearing his emotions. “This length of rope around my throat is starting to choke” provides dark juxtaposition to an otherwise uplifting song.
On this evidence, Joshua Caole is likely to become another darling of the British folk scene with good reason. Fans of Benjamin Francis Leftwich and James Vincent McMorrow will be eager to add him to their playlists optimised for those late, contemplative nights, with nothing but the glow of the iPod screen to lighten the room.
Joshua will be playing on 24th April –
Pull Up The Roots at The Slaughtered Lamb
34-35 Great Sutton Street London, Greater London EC1V