Announces debut album Ephrata
Due out on 5 May via Quiet Arch Records
Listen to first single “Tunnels pt.2”
Northern Irish newcomer Joshua Burnside shares “Tunnels pt.2”, the lead single from his forthcoming debut album Ephrata (out on 5 May via Quiet Arch Records – home to Northern Irish Music Prize winner Ciaran Lavery, as well as Ryan Vail and Tucan). Blending modern electronics and contemporary concerns with fiery vocals and a firm footing in Irish folk, Burnside confidently mixes the synthetic with the traditional.
The track is lament on the addictive nature of technology and its potential to distance and disconnect, despite being a tool to bring people together. Rockier than much of Burnside’s previous output, the song pivots around a sense of immediacy, boldly remarking on this particular technological anxiety: “from the tips of your fingers, come the words in your head, electricity runs from needle to thread, a fleshy patchwork is formed, it is covering me, until I am deaf, blind and dumb, following these tunnels?”
The track opens with an urgent synth loop, making way for an immense drumbeat gradually overlaid with beautifully harmonised vocals. Burnside says of recording the song: “At first the guitar tone reminded us of Grizzly Bear, but once we started messing around with other tones and sounds, layering fingerpicking high on the fretboard with short stabby chops lower down, it became something entirely unique”.
Joshua Burnside’s debut album Ephrata was written in a burst of a few weeks whilst living in northern Colombia, the songs on the album deal with a diverse range of themes, from PTSD and technophobia, to larger questions about time, love and death in the modern age. The influences of his Irish background and his love of Gothic Folk-Americana, has brought him fans both in the UK and America. Ephrata is the name of a small town in Pennsylvania, nodding to the transatlantic connection. Burnside visited Ephrata whilst on tour a few years ago, when a nearby market burnt down on the first night he was there and fire engines drove past all night. He explains his state of mind whilst writing the title track; “I was going in between dreaming and being awake, having apocalyptic dreams. The song uses synths and upbeat Colombian rhythms to contrast the dark lyrical themes.”
Burnside released his critically acclaimed first EP If Your Goin That Way in 2013, which was described by The Irish Times as; “Rumbling, brooding, powerful, magnetic.” The lead single “Black Dog Sin” received numerous radio plays from Gideon Coe and Lauren Laverne on 6 Music and went on to notch up 1.5 million plays on Spotify and over 50,000 plays on YouTube.
Ephrata sees a change in direction for Burnside, moving away from a strictly folk sound. The gothic and religious themes remain but a distinct Latin flavour has found its way into the music, inspired by his time in South America. In need of a change of scene and creative stimulus, he stayed with his cousin who was living in Colombia for a few months. He had no money when he went out there so he borrowed a small classical guitar and stared writing the album. He even played with a local Cumbia group (mixing traditional African dance music with European instrumentation) and soaked up the rhythmic influences, most notably in songs such as “26th Street” (named after the street in Bogota where the political satirist Jaime Garzon was assassinated) and “fightorfight” (featuring guest vocals from Hozier cellist and backing vocalist Alana Henderson).
Burnside’s contemporary influences include bands such as Sun Kil Moon, Dirty Three, The Books and The Microphones, but this year has also found himself listening to a variety of old tapes, with the incongruous mixture of Dick Gaughan, Talking Heads, Toto La Mompasina and The Cure creeping into his own sound.
A multi-instrumentalist, Burnside played most of the sounds on the album but was also joined by a number of collaborators and producers including his brother Connor on drums and percussion, electronic solo artist Rachael Boyd on violin and synths, Clark Phillips on bass and Sarah Martin on trumpet.
Quiet Arch Records – 5 May
- Blood Drive
- Tunnels Pt.2
- 26th St
- Tunnels Pt.1
- The Unrequited Kind
- The Good Word