Album Review: Joshua Burnside – All Round the Light Said EP

By on Monday, 2nd July 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

Joshua Burnside All Round the Light Said album coverThese days, you have two pretty clear options on the kind of music you can listen to: true escapist fare of little intellectual consequence to take your mind away from what’s going outside your door, or songs with a conscience and enough meat on the bones to make you contemplate where you or the world has gone wrong. One is neither better than the other, but as time passes, I know which kind can console me now. Northern Irish alt-folk singer/songwriter Joshua Burnside’s latest release, the ‘All Round the Light Said’ EP, falls in the second category, and its title alone leads to some heavy questions. What is the light? Is it benevolent? Are we meant to be going towards it? While Burnside’s EP may not hold all the answers, it follows nicely from his Northern Ireland Music Prize-winning debut album ‘Ephrata’ from last year and its political and emotional content framed by South American rhythms.

The EP begins with previously unveiled single ‘A Man of High Renown’, a lumbering waltz of air organ and accordion oozing Irishness. A gay and catchy melody belies the song’s dark lyrical content as the song feels like one of those films where you’re bounced between terrible events of the past and present day. At the song’s core is a struggle between the powerful and the weak. You’re left wondering if wrongs have been righted; perhaps that was the intention, to leave it as a cliffhanger? The accompanying video sees Burnside on accordion, being accompanied by dancers because, well, everyone knows the Irish are famous for their music and their dancing, right? The split screen accomplishes the same thing as the lyrics, juxtaposing locations of old and new Belfast.

‘Rearranged’ can be viewed another exercise in looking back, while also looking forward to see how far one has come or what’s up ahead. Or not. Burnside’s own technophobic tendencies have translated into a meandering guitar melody and a warbly vocal delivery. These feel like are good parallels to the noodley thoughts in your head of anxiety. ‘Northern Winds’ is a song in two acts, the first a more conventional folk song. About halfway through, a gentle drumbeat is accompanied by trumpet and banjo. The tempo speeds up and so does the overall volume as Burnside’s voice turns more insistent, referencing Oscar Wilde’s short story The Happy Prince, itself a study of compassion and sacrifice. Long a staple of Burnside’s live show and recorded in analogue, it’s interesting it immediately precedes ‘Paul’, a much more experimental number with unusual percussion, disorted organ notes and synth effects. While an obvious strength of Burnside’s is his Americana-style songwriting, the way ‘All Round the Light’ concludes suggests a future more experimental direction that would be even more intriguing.

8/10

The newest release from Joshua Burnside, the Editor Mary reviews Northern Irish alt-folk singer/songwriter Joshua Burnside’s latest release, the ‘All Round the Light Said’ EP out now on Quiet Arch. EP, is out now on Quiet Arch Records. His next live appearances include UK headline shows at Glasgow Nice N Sleazy on the 10th of July and London Paper Dress Vintage on the 24th, in addition to loads of Irish appearances through the summer. A full list of his live appearances are available on his official Web site. Read through our past coverage on Burnside through this link.

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