‘Joseph’ Brings a Big, Sisterly Sound to the Newport
By Grant Burkhardt
You might have found “Joseph,” the sister-folk trio, because you’re a student of the American folk scene—or, perhaps you found them because you listen to Dawes or First Aid Kit or even Mumford & Sons on Spotify and Joseph was a “Related Artist.”
But you most likely found Joseph the way I did, the most millennial way possible: hearing “Planets” being played at a Starbucks. Then by listening to their Tiny Desk Concert, going full repeat-mode on their latest album (I’m Alone, No You’re Not), sending their songs to all my friends and family, and finally being alerted to the fact that this band – whose haunting acoustic sound I’ve fallen in love with – is playing at the Newport in Columbus on Thursday and tickets are five dollars. I’ve bought four. See you there.
“Joseph” is Allison, Meegan, and Natalie Closner, three sisters from Portland, Oregon, and they feel like a band that’s learning just how invisible the limits are on their music. Native Dreamer Kin (2014) was a nine-song, slow, melodic folk album. I’m Alone, No You’re Not, on top of having even a name that can choke you up, is a bigger sound, full of layers, while not losing one touch of the harmony that always feels as though it’s being created in a family living room.
But while those genuinely lovely harmonies and folk tendencies exist in Joseph’s music, it does them no service at all to pigeonhole them into any of those categories. I tend to use “girl band” as a term of endearment for groups like The Staves or First Aid Kit and even that seems slightly like it marginalizes what these three sisters from Oregon could grow to be. They’ll play the Newport on Thursday with a fuller band and a crisper, brighter, more evolved sound, just two years after touring as three sisters with one guitar.
I hear that polish on tracks like “White Flag” (a song tailor-made for a parallel world where a large number of radio stations play good music) and “Canyon.” They’ve enhanced their roots with more layers and more sound, rather than letting all that production get in the way. And there’s still the old, haunting, music-that-feels-like-the-month-of-October songs on I’m Alone, No You’re Not, too. “Sweet Dreams” is a great finishing track to keep you feeling uneasy as you walk through the rest of your day.
To survive, rising musical acts increasingly must reinvent themselves or risk becoming Oh-I-Remember-Thems like Kid Cudi or Hootie and the Blowfish. No longer am I even able to answer a question like “What genre are they?” about a band like Joseph, because we’ll all continue to learn that genre, like so many other things, is completely fluid, especially as artists like these sisters keep making things to show us just that, to show us what’s possible.
For more on Joseph you can visit their official website: www.thebandjoseph.com
Tickets for their Thursday show at the Newport on sale online at www.ticketmaster.com
For more information, visit www.promowestlive.com.