On Jan. 13, Joesef released his debut album, Permanent Damage, a soulful and intimate ode to his chaotic romantic relationships. The ominous title describes the indelible mark that love and subsequent heartbreak can leave on a person. A honey-soaked voice and confessional, explorative lyrics characterize the Scottish singer-songwriter, who moved to London in 2020, as an emerging figure in the alt-pop genre.
Throughout the album’s 13 tracks, Joesef walks his listeners through the feelings of losing and being lost, hurting and being hurt, and the residual love that lingers even when it should be gone. In “Borderline,” the instrumental quiets down, giving the stage to a close-mic narrative about meeting the right person at the wrong time. The funky and upbeat mood of “Didn’t Know How (to Love You)” accurately conveys the feeling of not caring anymore. And “Joe”’s lively and uplifting rhythm contrasts with the subject matter of a bad relationship with oneself.
The queer artist presents his brutally honest and unapologetic lyrics as a result of his upbringing in Glasgow’s East End, which he once described as “a rough area where what you see is what you get.” The influence of his hometown appears in “East End Coast,” which presents Glasgow as a comforting place through a melody both melancholic and uplifting.
Sonically, Permanent Damage evolves in a soul and indie pop universe. Joesef’s falsetto allows for a light breeze of airiness on themes that could easily drag you down. Alternatively, his full voice brings the listener through the tumultuousness of love with smooth delivery grounded by raw lyrics.
The 27-year-old singer emerged four years ago with the debut EP Play Me Something Nice, followed by Does It Make You Feel Good? in 2020, both exploring the theme of deep longing. With this debut album, Joesef continues digging into his emotions—especially the ones related to breakups—for inspiration. His continued authenticity and heart-infused songs are an undeniable reason for Joesef’s solid fan following, who will be the first to experience this album live on stage during his European tour starting in March.
Permanent Damage is available to stream on all platforms.