Release Date: 5th May 2017
Label: Quiet Arch

Sometimes touted as an emerging talent, Joshua Burnside is no stranger to followers of Northern Irish music. While ‘Ephrata’ is the songwriter’s debut album, it’s been a long time in the making.

Back in 2013, Burnside released the ‘If You’re Going That Way’ EP and something of a breakthrough single ‘Desert Wine’. There were hints of electronica and an already strong songwriting sensibility. From the off, Joshua Burnside was more than another Damien Rice wannabe singer at an open mic night.

‘Ephrata’ builds on the foundations of that four-year-old release. There’s a real depth of talent in the Northern Irish songwriting gene pool at present. Led by the likes of Gary Lightbody and Foy Vance, younger acts such as Ciaran Lavery and David C Clements have shone through in recent years. Burnside is the new young pretender to the throne.

As a record, ‘Ephrata’ is laden with the tunes and lyricism of a much older and world-weary writer. Burnside deals with the age-old themes of life and love with a younger vigour.

Lead single ‘Blood Drive’ conjures up apocalyptic poetry in dealing with the anxiety of the everyday. Never has a routine blood donation sounded so deep. As a lead single, it’s an obvious choice. The fingerpicking and vocal delivery are what you might expect from a straight-up folk artist. There are echoes of The National or Fleet Foxes but also a nod to Sun Kil Moon. Kozelek is admittedly one of Joshua Burnside’s biggest influences.

In interviews, Burnside has talked up the writing of most of the record in Colombia. He’d temporarily relocated there to visit a cousin in the wake of break-up in Glasgow. Two life-altering moments that were always bound to make for a great record.

‘Tunnels Pt. I’ and Fightforfight are unashamedly Latin in influence. From the selection of instruments to the rhythms of guitar and percussion, there’s a clear South American feel.

Fans of Burnside’s earlier work will not feel alienated in the global expanse. There are moments of solid Irish influenced folk, most notably in the epic album closer ‘The Good Word’. Hollllogram too is a simpler tale of love, ably assisted by Alana Henderson with nods to the Lisa Hannigan years of Damien Rice.

The desolation played out amidst the violence on ’26th St’ is done so with the backing of an Eastern European style waltz. It’s a clear sign that Joshua Burnside is not afraid to draw on a new style or take on a new challenge. At the more uptempo end of the scale, ‘Tunnels Pt. II’ delivers a track that could easily sit on a more pop-influenced record.

Joshua Burnside recently launched the record with an intimate show at Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival. He is now taking the songs on the road for a short UK and Ireland tour.

Tuesday 9th May 2017 Nice and Sleazy Glasgow Scotland
Thursday 11th May 2017 Servant Jazz Quarters London England
Saturday 13th May 2017 Ursa Minor Ballycastle Northern Ireland
Saturday 27th May 2017 Craft Village Derry Northern Ireland
Thursday 1st June 2017 Bellobar Dublin Ireland

With so many layers and textures gracing ‘Ephrata’, you can expect a different take on some of the live material. We imagine laptops or samplers to play a role. With Burnside as the main musician on the record, he’s an obvious multi-instrumental talent.

Expect to hear much more from the Northern Irish man as the Colombian heat of ‘Ephrata’ only looks set to rise.