Joesef – Permanent Damage

Unafraid to wrestle with feelings of loneliness, alienation, and self-destructiveness out in the open, Permanent Damage is an impressive debut from Joesef

Album Review by Marco Marcelline | 09 Jan 2023
  • Joesef - Permanent Damage
Album title: Permanent Damage
Artist: Joesef
Label: AWAL
Release date: 13 Jan

After two excellent EPs, Permanent Damage elegantly sticks to the formula of sad-boy soul that has seen Glasgow singer Joesef get lauded by everyone from Sam Smith and Mark Ronson to Elton John. The powerful Just Come Home With Me platforms the quiet desperation of wanting one last night with a lover you’ll probably never see again; a last-minute pine for a relationship that 'has no future in sight'. The theme of self-abnegation continues in the following song Borderline, where Joesef asks a lover to 'remember what you loved me for, even when I’m on the floor'.

Searing introspection is abundant on this record (it’s clear he goes to therapy) and the depressive lyrics could almost veer towards being overwhelming if the hooks (and his voice) weren’t so captivating. It’s not a faultless album; the energy dips towards the end and never quite recovers. But there are some truly spectacular moments.

Joesef is at his very best on the bouncy funk of It’s Been a Little Heavy Lately, the smooth soul of Didn’t Know How (To Love You), and the anthemic pop single Joe. Permanent Damage is a thoroughly impressive and self-aware debut from an artist who is unafraid to wrestle with feelings of loneliness, alienation, and self-destructive tendencies out in the open.

Listen to: It's Been a Little Heavy Lately, Didn't Know How (To Love You), Joe