Review Summary: No ice in my whiskey, please.
The last eleven months have been some of the most harrowing in modern history. The economic divide has grown to monstrous proportions. Isolation is taking its toll on those of us who are separated from family and friends, the stress giving way to a massive worldwide increase in cases of depression and anxiety. Pubs and bars that once held crowds of laughing twenty-somethings have been reduced to hollow shells of records that aren't being played and glasses that hold no beer. Many artists have found creative inspiration to write songs lamenting the loss of live music and the overall beauty that comes with strangers coming together to enjoy the art.
One such artist is Irish folk-singer Joshua Burnside
, who made waves in the underground scene with 2017's EPHRATA
, a sun-drenched indie folk tribute to his stay in Colombia. A three-year break between releases can be a daunting task for a successful debut songwriter to live up to - after all, Burnside may have been writing those debut songs for years before the album took shape. Add that to the growing sense of uneasiness and lack of control felt by the world's majority, and it wouldn't have came as a surprise if writer's block had watered down his follow-up efforts.
Into the Depths of Hell
promptly takes that notion and throws it out the window.
Over the course of ten songs, Burnside has drawn influence from The Midnight Organ Fight
, The Glow Pt. 2
and For Emma, Forever Ago
to craft a twisted and haunting portrait of a neurotic and suffering mind. From the pounding kick drums and warbling moans of opener "I Saw The Night" - which instantly brings Phil Elverum's signature style to mind - to the desperate and apologetic "Nothing for Ye", Burnside covers a broad range of emotions. Utilizing field recordings, experimental recording techniques and even a little autotune (an obvious nod to Justin Vernon), he manages to breathe life into a genre that has been stretched exceedingly thin over the last two decades.
Although several of the album's themes have to do with society's sad insignificance in the grand scheme of it all, Burnside manages to carry an underlying sense of hope in his voice that never truly wavers throughout the journey to the final moments of the closing track. There is a pain and sorrow in his words that resonate in a way that few musicians have managed to convey, especially not as early into what should be a very promising career as Burnside is right now. An incredibly ambitious tribute to the genre's best and brightest, Into the Depths of Hell
is a resounding triumph in the face of all the ugliness, paranoia and unsteadiness of the modern world - one that will surely provide some form of comfort to anyone that can relate.