The moment that an almost industrial clatter opens ‘I Saw The Light,’ the opening track on Joshua Burnside’s second effort ‘Into the Depths of Hell,’ you immediately realize that you are in a bit of a left-field musical ride. Some who like to stick to their personal, strict definitions of a genre, would even question if the Belfast singer/songwriter has come up with an Americana album after all. But the answer to that question is much more simple and complicated at the same time.
Why simple and complicated? Because Americana is supposed to be a genre that doesn’t just stick to country and bluegrass but incorporates practically anything that fits in with the roots. And the roots of Americana, are among the many – those that came from Ireland as well as those that have their roots on other continents.
And that is where Burnside comes in. After all, on his first album, he even incorporated elements of Columbian Cumbia. On ‘Depths of Hell’ goes a few steps forward (and backward, if you will). Throughout, he weaves in elements of Irish folk music, acoustic picking, bluegrass (‘Noa Mercier’), and even electronically processed vocals (‘Driving Alone in the City at Night’), and if you take a closer listen, a few other things that require quite a few listens.
And, essentially, ‘Depths of Hell’ deserves those listens, both for Burnside’s musical and lyrical capabilities because you can really believe his description of the album when he says that it is “an absurdist examination at the suffering humans inflict on each other every day and the innate human condition that demands we find some humour in it lest we collapse.” Whether we like his description or not.