In a slightly hazy, cosy and tucked away basement in Soho’s Arts Theatre Club, somewhat soft spoken and endearing artist, Joe Slater, with his acoustic guitar and mouth harp to hand thankfully (he said he forgot the harp but luckily a mate came to a very quick rescue) began his set at what was the launch party for the release of his first single, ‘Lady’. The songs were played, ‘as it plays’ on the upcoming EP he offered. The EP is out next Spring and the singles are due to be released one by one before it comes out in full.
Joe’s label manager, Ray Jones, took to the stage first, making a poignant and revealing introduction which included the fortuitous story of meeting Joe for the first time. Joe told him he simply ‘wanted to get paid to sing his own tunes’, and, that has now been realised. How lucky we all are really for that having happened. Joe has such quality and depth to his vocals and songwriting, his authenticity leaps forward to establish his footing for him. He has a slight Bob Dylan aura about him and doesn’t shy away from navigating some deep storylines and personal experiences which lend such validity to his music.
He started with the new single, ‘Lady’, given its was the draw to everyone being there to celebrate its launch with him. The song is bathed in a kind of tempered edginess and contains a full injection of his passion for his ‘Lady’ (his guitar that earns him his wage). It is an elegant and yet gutsy song that demonstrates Joe is beyond talented.
His second song, ‘Nothing Ever Seems to Change’, which embodies a slightly melancholy timbre and reflects the repetitive nature of life’s learning experiences. Joe poured into his emotive lyrics fully and its clear his devotion to what he is putting out there, song after song.
Joe very sweetly lightened the mood in between songs by raising a ‘cheers’ to the audience for being there with him and the crowd returning the same right back to him.
Back to set, the next song up was, ‘Rainbow’, a personal favourite of mine. It is a very lyrical and heartfelt track but still with all the requisite grit and rasp that is a hallmark of Joe’s sound. He keeps the message heart-centric and slightly broken from his obvious experience, and, that creates an affectation on the lyrics and the sound which translates beautifully. The sombre tone finds a place in the soul as he feels his way through the song, and every track of his really. That’s the thing about his music, you can tell these songs are like children to Joe, ready to find their way into the world, as he sets them out.
Before his song, ‘Slow It Down’, Joe more boldly stated that, ‘It’s a very f***ing special song, and, when the full band is around, it makes it really really f***ing good!’ and that garnered a huge response of support from the crowd expectedly. And with telling lyrics like, ‘Singing for my sorrow, I’m drinking for my pain’, you can see why his singing and songwriting does and will speak to many generations and is levelling and unifying.
Once you hear Joe play, the result will be that you’ll always find some time and place in your life, as well as your heart, for music such as this.
Photos by Jonathon Cuff/ www.jonathoncuff.com