The power of Kathryn Joseph’s music lies in its quiet, understated delicacy: she can silence a room into hushed adoration when playing live, quietened by forensic tenderness.
This, her third album, its title in lower case like an inscription, seems more openly political. It appears to allude to frightened people trying to cross borders in boats, the failure of the UK government in helping those with mental health problems receive adequate treatment, and the ubiquitous abuse of power by tyrants. At least, that is my interpretation. She implies, she does not state, and that is in its own way more effective.
Joseph’s lovely half-sung, half-whispered voice is disarming: you really have to lean in to listen properly. It’s like secrets shared from a sister, or a lover’s confession, as with ‘bring to me your open wounds’, where she asks a partner to share the darkest parts of their psyches, and trust in the process.
‘how well you are’ bobs and weaves like a ship on choppy waters, and the rhythm of ‘of all the broken’ is like blood running into a hypodermic needle. There is a pared-back heartbeat tempo in ‘the harmed’; and Joseph bares her teeth more, like a ferocious lioness protecting her young on ‘until the truth of you’.
Keys and double-tracked vocals layer this intense, beautiful album, forever vacillating between sorrow, desire and hope. Blood, bones, skin, and mantras pointing towards traumas resolved, cover the album in both human fragility and strength-wishes for better, peaceful days ahead.
for you who are the wronged will be released 22nd April on Rock Action