Joesef's Debut Album ‘Permanent Damage’ Is an Exercise in Hurt and Healing

Photo: Nathan Dunphy

Glasgow-based pop artist Joesef has finally blessed fans with the release of his debut album, Permanent Damage. Showcasing his invigorating vocals and profound sense of lyrical honesty, the body of work primarily touches on heartbreak and the restorative bliss that comes from the healing process while revealing more of Joesef's emotional scars than ever before.

The record opens with the title track, "Permanent Damage," which instantly sets the bar ludicrously high for the remainder of the album. Composed of a score that delicately highlights the 27-year-old's angelic falsetto vocals, it's a creation that becomes the perfect setup for what's to come. Unlike previous releases, which sat comfortably with low-swung guitar hooks and warm production, the record takes a step into new territory with the introduction of orchestral sections and cinematic valiance.

The record then transitions into the pervasive "It's Been A Little Heavy Lately." Joesef details a scenario where he loses his morals and gives into the advances of someone in a relationship while rich sonic textures weave their way in and out of the artist's silky vocals. He croons to the ether, "Cause when you kiss her, you know something's missing / You know that it feels different with me."

The record's heart shines in the next vulnerable trio, which all embody a moving, glassy-eyed intimacy. First, the coming-of-age anthem "East End Coast" oozes with the nostalgia of a past relationship, complete with the intoxicating chorus declaring, "We don't need to have it all / That doesn't matter to me." Next, "Just Come Home With Me Tonight" is a spine-tingling final mourning of an ex, but nothing hits harder than the fragility in "Borderline." "I'm not angry / I'm just disappointed," sings Joesef with a noticeably broken yet compelling demeanor as he continues to tell the story of a "right person, wrong time" situation set against nothing but atmospheric acoustics.

The record then takes a turn with the red-hot Cuban-jazz-inspired, funk-leaning, drumbeat-driven soundscape "Didn't Know How (to Love You)." Joesef shared with MusicFeeds, "It's definitely the fuck you song of the record." We then revisit more solipsistic territory with rose-tinted instrumentals on "Apartment 22." The track is abundant with heavenly strings, captivating horn sections, and the sweet tones of Elbow frontman Guy Garvey.

Despite the primarily laid-back sonics of Permanent Damage, the lyrics speak to our narrator being pushed to a breaking point. Joesef is a clever and exquisitely honest lyricist, and the core of his writing comes to life in the small details, whether it be the heady rush of day drinking or a casual exchange of words with a new flame.

Overall, it's safe to say Joesef doesn't let his self-proclaimed title of a "sadboy" slip in his debut record. Instead, he poignantly and gracefully delves into the varying complicated emotions that come along with the cycle of love and loss. The internal struggles of Permanent Damage are valiant, and its story will likely stay with you long after the closing track lets out its final note.

Listen to Permanent Damage below:

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