Kathryn Joseph @ Mono, 9 Dec

Live Review by Susan Le May | 15 Dec 2016

In the 18 months since Kathryn Joseph's debut album Bones You Have Thrown Me and Blood I've Spilled beat established industry names to win the 2015 Scottish Album of the Year Award, her burgeoning confidence as an artist and ability to bewitch audiences have been beautiful to behold.  

She's effortless, with fixed-gaze piano confessionals searing into the soul of the observer, and tonight's sold-out Mono show sees a reverent near-silence throughout. There's rarely a dry eye in the room when she performs, and this evening is no different. New track The Coming is a confronting set opener, with the complexities of hurt and the sting of betrayal revealed through sparse keys and sparing lyrics, showing her skill of saying so much with explicitly so little. The delicate waltz of The Bird makes way for the building swell and sway of The Blood, and musical partner/producer Marcus Mackay's instinctive, eerie percussive flourishes on The Worm and The Outtakes.

Joseph's at-times-unnerving audience stare belies her humility. Her incredible voice – part vintage elegance, part sweary 21st-century powerhouse – is mesmeric with raw, captivating lyrical honesty (The Crow, The Mouth) as she invites us to examine the flaws of life and love.

The Want is poignant sensuality and devastating heartbreak, whilst the meandering melancholia of The Good leads to the sheer sorrow of The Weary. Four brilliant new songs finish the set, and the more assertive pop structures of the likes of closer The Mountain are a tantalising glimpse into album number two.

Tonight feels a fitting way to mark the end of the first chapter of Kathryn Joseph's career, with a peek into the next. Despite multiple collaborations in the past year – with RM Hubbert, James Graham (The Twilight Sad) amongst others – Joseph has become more prolific in her solo songwriting. If the quartet of new tracks aired this evening are a taster of what's to come, her sophomore effort (set for completion and release next year) looks set to easily build on the adulation she's already earned.