London-based Aussie singer Josef Salvat releases his new single, more timeless (mainly synth) pop-soul in the form of double-A-side “Every Night” and “Till I Found You”. Out on December 9th on Fingers & Thumbs.
We’ve met Josef before, back in April when we reviewed his previous single “Hustler” (you can read about it here). There are plenty of similarities between that record and this. The production is spotless again – each individual element allowed to register from the sultry drums to the gently swaying backing vocals. This level of understatement does, of course, mean that there has got to be something else going on – there’s nothing wrong with the sound, but it isn’t attention grabbing enough on its own.
Fortunately there’s his soulful voice – expressive but smoothly delivered – and there are the intelligent lyrics that always have much more to them than you might expect with this sort of pop. “Hustler” suggested some darkly damaging actions – Salvat coyly responded to questioning from Songwriting magazine earlier in the year on whether its narrator was a rent boy – and the protagonist of “Every Night” similarly invites us to understand the nuances of a situation.
Of course there is something special between narrator and subject – special enough for this song to exist after all. But Salvat isn’t content to list off a set of banal attributes as reasons for a relationship. “They don’t get you need the dishes I serve” he croons, hinting at the particular sexual chemistry involved. One of our lovers craves something that only the other can give, no matter what the less-perceptive might think about superficial reasons for a connection (“you’re much more than this bust-up face deserves”).
It’s in the final line of that verse that Salvat really demands our full focus “I don’t tell them ’cause your dignity comes first”. The voice does it to begin with, taking us much lower than before, down into the farther reaches of his voice. For me this gives the line an extra edge of honesty and power: that Salvat is beginning to strain in delivery shows us how much the point he is making is true, and how much it matters. Then there are the words. If dignity is what is at stake, then whatever this special link is must be something that, out in the public eye, could be seen to be shameful. Our narrator endures the disbelieving snipes of people who can’t see why this love works, even though they have a ready answer, in order to protect the object of their affection. This is strong narrative songwriting showing a lot in a few lines – and then Salvat’s voice rises up from the depths, sweetly soaring through the chorus.
There has been understandable focus on the melancholy nature of previous releases. “Every Night” puts that to bed musically and lyrically with a lighter, more romantic tune and definitive lyrics “the battle’s been fought/and it’s been won…’cause you come back for my love”. I think we can strongly expect this to up Salvat’s profile considerably.
- New Music: Josef Salvat – Hustler (backseatmafia.wordpress.com)
- Backseat Mafia meets Cult of Luna (backseatmafia.com)
- The Provincial Archive – Maybe We Could Be Holy (backseatmafia.com)
- New Single: Amber – Heaven (backseatmafia.com)
- Not Forgotten – Groundhogs – Split (backseatmafia.com)
- See: Erica Russo and The Good Sport, new video (backseatmafia.com)