Russell Joslin is one of those artists you seem to stumble across by accident and then call it fate when you hear him sing. I heard about him from a friend who saw him live and fell in love, she was frantic and adamant I had to hear this Russell guy’s album, Dream Tokens. I took it eventually, (to shut her up), and proceeded to bow down in gratitude for her bringing this gravely voiced prince into my life. Since then I have been a big fan of his and his band ‘Pretty Bricks’, so I was beyond excited when I heard he was releasing a new album, Jet Black and White.
True to form Russell has stuck to his roots and given us another powerful bluesy album. He starts us off with a stereotypical folk sound with ‘Dreams and Country Lanes’ which has the odd off key note and high pitched yodel, which shouldn’t work, but does for Russell. He takes us to a darker place with ‘Red Rag’ which gives him a chance to show us the fire in his belly. The addition of the electric guitar in this song also manages to take it to a whole different level, (it’s about now that you really sit up and take notice….). There’s more power in ‘Sentences and Words’ with him practically spitting the lyrics… “bow for this, bow for that”… It’s the grit you hear in his voice when he pushes himself that gets to you.
It isn’t all doom and gloom though, he gives us some light relief with ‘Great Things’ which adds some upbeat lightness with the help of his harmonica. There are also some mellow and heart wrenching moments with ‘Migration Song’, ‘The Worlds Oldest Confession’ and the last track, ‘My Bluest Field of Lavender’. A stand out track for me has to be ‘Pale Mary’ which is just heart wrenching with lyrics such as…“In this room of broken hearts, yours is the one I cling to”… Really beautiful work.
All in all an album for folk/blues fans everywhere. If you love music with emotion and feeling behind it, Russell Joslin is the man for you. I personally cannot wait to go to one of his gigs….and propose.