Impeccable female harmonies in music aren’t a rare thing. Sisterly “girl bands” like First Aid Kit, The Staves, and HAIM have received critical acclaim and plenty of indie radio airplay in the last five years.
It’s now time to add another group to that roster: the Closner sisters (Natalie and twins Allison and Meegan) – aka the band Joseph. Named after the small Oregon town where their grandparents live, this indie folk/pop trio will charm you with their dynamic sound. What strikes you most upon first hearing Joseph is their vocal purity. This wholesomeness probably stems from their origins in Portland – a place of fresh air, towering evergreens, and nature-loving residents. Those organic elements are imprinted into the sisters’ DNA and thus into their music. Call it alt-folk or indie folk-pop, but whatever you do, give their new album a proper spin.
I’m Alone, No You’re Not (ATO Records), is a war cry of female strength that springs from their familial bonds. It offers a bevy of aural treats sure to please the new fans they’ve gained this year thanks to late-night TV appearances and festival performances. Despite being relatively unknown outside the Pacific Northwest before this year, the sisters delighted audiences at major festivals (SXSW, Bonnaroo, and Glastonbury) even prior to this album’s release.
Some groups deliver a polished sound in the studio yet fail to recreate that same magic on stage. This is definitely not the case with Joseph. After seeing them perform twice this year already, the best word to describe their live performance is electrifying. Their music resonates with the audience. Even when the audience may be hearing the songs for the first time, their songs create an instant bond. Joseph’s performances feel like you’re among family, not just watching performers on a stage. The sisters possess remarkable vocal chemistry that entwines their voices with crystalline clarity. That chemistry was first heard on their self-released 2014 debut album, Native Dreamer Kin, but is fully realized on I’m Alone, No You’re Not.
Fans of The Head and The Heart, First Aid Kit, and Lucius will appreciate the dynamic beauty this album contains. It’s masterfully produced by Mike Mogis (the Bright Eyes producer who’s also worked with First Aid Kit) and features several instant classics. From the rousing, up-tempo “White Flag” to the endearing, pop-oriented “Blood & Tears”, this is a gem of an album that signals the official start of a promising career. There’s a phrase in the music industry that “it takes five years to become an overnight success” – a notion that Joseph most likely finds relatable. While it has taken them a few years to realize their place in the national spotlight, this album proves they are a force to be reckoned with and are definitely a band to watch.
The album’s lead single, “White Flag” perfectly captures the essence of the band. It’s energetic and infectious. The video, filmed this summer in Tennessee after their performance at Bonnaroo, shows the sisters in their element, surrounded by woods and water. Their music is not unlike those surroundings: equal parts strong and fluid, hearty and gentle.
“Blood & Tears”
Perhaps the most autobiographical song on the album, “Blood & Tears” focuses on devotion and commitment. Joseph’s newlywed lead vocalist Natalie Closner sings heartfelt sentiments that are interchangeable as vows or song lyrics:
“I know that we’ve got odds against us / We’re probably gonna get real tired
Oh, we may have to choose / We’re gonna have to learn what hard is
It’ll be a fight regardless / I only want the fight to be with you”
“Blood & Tears” is just one of the album’s standout tracks. Each note of every song reinforces the cohesion of the whole. Their music is uplifting and positive, traits too often lacking in most music genres. The entire album shines with optimistic clarity, so it will surprise no one when it makes many Album of the Year lists.
I’m Alone, No You’re Not is out now from ATO Records and available from the label’s online store. You can follow Joseph at their social media channels listed below. And by all means, if they tour anywhere near you, be sure to catch their live show.
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