Sometimes we go a while without hearing a new artist whose music definitively stands out from the pack; 24-year-old Glasgow artist Joesef fills that void. Vice’s i-D described Joesef’s sound as a combination of Rex Orange County and Amy Winehouse – the melodic fusion we never knew we needed.
Joesef started making waves in the music world circa early 2019, selling out his March show at Glasgow’s cult concert hall, King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut before releasing any music online. This feat was only accomplished once before, by another young Scot whom you may know: Lewis Capaldi. Just a year after his Tut’s performance, Capaldi reached number one on numerous charts with “Someone You Loved.” Will we see a similar trajectory with Joesef? Some are already placing their bets.
After releasing a few singles throughout 2019, Joesef compiled them into a six-song EP, Play Me Something Nice, in October. The EP’s six tracks have collectively amassed nearly seven million listens on Spotify, with the standout track “Loverboy” acquiring nearly three million streams of its own.
Joesef has shared that “Loverboy” was inspired by seeing an ex at a party for the first time after their breakup. He describes the awkward interaction, “Without saying sorry, are you alright? / I make up a story, hell yeah, I’m fine / Don’t know what to say now, four drinks at a time.” There’s an undeniable relatability in his words about feeling flustered, caught off guard by someone you’re not over, and just wanting to down drink after drink to curtail the anxiety of being in the same room.
Each of Joesef’s songs is defined by his unique voice that is somehow simultaneously raspy and buttery smooth. There is a distinct cohesion between all six tracks on the album; played back to back you might not notice where one ends and another begins. Each song is built around his intoxicating voice, cocooning the vocals with an understated snare beat and the soft, harp-like plucking of a guitar.
In a British Vogue interview, Joesef describes as “sad boy” music and admits that most of his inspiration for writing songs comes from the wretched gloom that comes the morning after a night of “getting pissed with friends.” The entire EP is a “sad boy summer hangover - a massive love hangover.” Joesef also indicated that he plans to continue using his music as a sort of diary of his love life, which undoubtedly means we’ll continue falling for his sad, low-fi breakup anthems.