Saturday, 6 October 2018

In the Forest with Kathryn Joseph

Kathryn Joseph - Kings Place 19th September 2018

There is something elemental about Kathryn Joseph. Of smouldering fires in the forest, of the breeze whispering in the leaves, of the dark peaty earth, the coiling knots of moss covered tree roots, the trickle of a brook, of large eyed nocturnal beasts, of bloody fairy tales full of love, wisdom and vengeance. The live performance, with the set crafted by Cryptic magnified this. A fractured mirrored landscape, spot lights and twisted organics, where the performer could be seen reflected in tiny details across the stage, it felt like neither night or day, but something in between, that special transient moment of sunrise or sunset captured in perpetuity. There was gravitas and theatre to her performance, occasionally pausing to stand, take a drink and gaze beyond, into the captivated faces below her. Her dress, specially designed by Marketa Kratochvilova for the tour added to the timeless fairy tale quality.

The album, From When I Wake the Want Is, which she played solo in its entirety, is an astonishing feat, a brilliant follow up to her first album, the award winning Bones You Have Thrown Me and Blood I’ve Spilled. The stripped down piano, the dark bass synths soaring, the heartbeat like percussion. And her fragile yet powerful vocals, sometimes allowed to bleed into the earth, into the background of the brilliant production (by Marcus Mackay), they come and go. It’s like she is moving around the fairy tale world she’s created, and we catch and hear glimpses of her as we carefully venture into the forest she commands. It's immersive, a story. Like Acteon when he stumbles upon the bathing Diana, the goddess of the hunt, it felt we were almost intruding on something so beautiful. Unlike Diana, she wasn’t vengeful and didn’t turn the audience into stags for us to be later consumed by our own dogs! (What a way to go though!)

Lyrically the album is both heart-breaking and uplifting. It feels dipped in love, blood, hope and sadness. It moves me. It’s inspiring. I’m listening to it for my writing. Kathryn Joseph is a treasure and a wonderfully kind, funny and generous friend to her fans. Go see her. Buy her albums!

The way that your mouth covers my mouth
The way that you suck all the darkness out
The way that my mouth covers your mouth
The way that I swallow the darkness down”

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