I started writing this thinking that maybe Josef Salvat sounded a bit like James Blake but then i realised that the only time I had heard James Blake was on Jools Holland and I wasn’t really paying attention so I had to go and listen to some James Blake (we might come back to that in another post) and my conclusion is: No. With detective work like that you can see why Big Chief Jim Mafia wants to keep me on this blog, right ?
Salvat is already plenty known – although new to me – and the Guardian wrote one of those slightly smug reviews they do so well (can’t stop reading them, though, can I ?) about him earlier this year. This single isn’t out until the 10th of June but it has been around for some time – and it’s being given another push ahead of the single release.
His voice is clear and expressive without ever getting showy and this is a solid pop song. The production is credible – there’s plenty of potential for a singer like this to end up sounding a touch retro (i.e. dated) but even the keyboards, which still remind me of something I can’t pinpoint, retain their class because everything is just understated enough. Salvat harmonises with himself to good effect as the song develops, both around the lead melody and also in providing a backing-vocal wash to surround an additional keyboard line that adds some lushness at the end of the track. He’s Soul – not Dave Godin soul, more Sade soul: high, clear, icily cool, not deep, blue, bassy. But he’s also got something unusual and that’s in the conflict in the lyrics – no straightforward tale of love lost or thrown away here. Salvat’s is a tale of sexual risk and a twisting and turning internal debate about sin and independence shot through with punches of stark reality (“it’s not easy on my bedsheets, it’s not easy on my nerves”). It’s a strong challenge that his flawed narrator throws down over such a smooth tune, and well worth repeated listens.