Experimental folk artist Joshua Burnside has received much acclaim in recent years. Championed by the likes of The Guardian, Clash, BBC 6Music and regional radio in the USA, Burnside is known for an unlikely blend of traditional Irish folk and electronic influences, complete with the use of ‘found sounds’ and adventurous production. The resulting sonic mixture makes him stand out as an award-winning artist to watch. However, this recording offers something different for Burnside: an entirely acoustic rendition of one of his new songs. What this showcases is his fluid guitar work and his wonderfully warm vocal performance. Throughout this version of ‘Woven’, Burnside’s sonorous vocal is simply fabulous. The stripped back nature of of the recording really highlights his quality, with the focus on his almost-ethereal singing that fills the huge space with apparent ease. Burnside’s lyrics are thoughtful, poetic pieces. Here, his opening lines : “Woven // Through your head // Like black thread // tangling up // Everything you think,” demonstrate his artful writing and immediately engage and intrigue the listener.
‘Woven’ is taken from Burnside’s brand new EP ‘Late Afternoon in the Meadow (1887)’, which is themed around the economic and social hardships of life in Belfast, his home city. It’s a story of disadvantage and disenchantment, of desperation and declining mental health, and the city’s concrete spaces and motorways, it’s very geography, play a part in reinforcing and symbolising division. Burnside says of the title track: “Belfast was redesigned for military, social and economic reasons during the late end of the century. It was rebuilt to suit a car-driving suburban middle class, which is why the centre is mostly encircled by car parks, empty buildings, empty land and motorways twisting and rising above or below you. It is sadly apt then, that people wishing to take their own life, often choose the Westlink as the place to do it, jumping from the bridges that cross it. This song is about someone at the end of their tether. And if you are feeling this way, then I dedicate this song to you. I wrote this one after returning from the south of France. I’m normally glad to be home, but it was a particularly grey and blustery day. On days like this, the city can feel like a very bleak place, and so I wrote a very bleak song. But there is hope in it too, hope for a kinder society, a life that is softer on the soul. Belfast seldom resembles a French impressionist painting, but it is my home and it has its own beauty.”
Burnside is currently in Paris, where he is recording his next full album, due for release in 2023. In the meantime, absorb this thought-provoking short collection of songs. There is a reason that Burnside has already amassed over 50 million streams on Spotify alone. He offers listeners something very different; and in this exclusive performance of ‘Woven’ in its raw state, we can see what a talented performer he is.