REVIEW album Old Subbacultcha Old Subbacultcha

Is Joseph Coward On The Right Track To Becoming World Famous?

Old Subbacultcha

Old Subbacultcha

Drawn to London at an early age, 22 year old Joseph Coward's soul intention in life is “to be really honest”, an aspect of his persona that runs rampant throughout the course of his debut album, the ironically titled The World Famous Joseph Coward. Interestingly enough, whilst the record's lyrical candour gives it an edge over its contemporaries, the fact that Coward isn't afraid to make his influences be known detracts from the album slightly, taking with it some of the personality that would make it a truly accomplished debut.

That said however, the influences Coward proudly channels are fairly diverse, sharing in common only the decade of their popularity, the 1980s. Album opener 'Hypersleep' for instance juxtaposes incendiary walls of guitar normally associated with the likes of Ride or Slowdive, with a Morrissey-esque verbose delivery; the proto-goth grandeur of Echo and the Bunnymen, never really far away, though really brought to the fore in tracks such as 'Thin'.

The emotional candour of... Joseph Coward really reaches its climax in the form of 'Sarah, Plain and Tall', fighting with a pervading darkness that permeates the track's fragile exterior from the opening moments. Surprisingly, a late highlight comes in the form of 'The Emperor of America', drawing from the likes of early '90s darlings The Mountain Goats or Neutral Milk Hotel, it's unassuming and under-produced, but as a result is also one of the most arresting tracks featured, suggesting a musical intelligence in Coward that reaches far beyond his tentative age and ability to play.

It's clear that Coward holds an eye for detail, the painstaking effort that has gone in to The World Famous Joseph Coward is impossible to ignore, and were it not for the more-than-obvious nods to his influences, it could quite easily be one of the strongest albums of the year.

When all is said and done however, the fact remains that is still a debut album, and rarely do such first forays in to the world of music yield perfect results and with a little time to grow and find his footing, Coward could become the top-class songwriter that his debut hints at.

All things considered then, The World Famous Joseph Coward isn't a perfect album, but it doesn't need to be. This is the sound of a musician taking his first steps in to the industry, and whilst it may well fly a little too close to his influences, something naysayers will certainly get their teeth in to, it's a competent release that not only proves Coward's musical prowess, but also lifts him beyond the realms of your typical singer/songwriter, transforming him in to a heart-on-sleeve indie troubadour for the current generation.

To visit Joseph Coward's website click here.

Words by Dave Beech