East London singer/songwriter Russell Joslin first started playing live shows across his home city all the way back in 2005. He quickly began to make a name for himself, being called upon to act as support for a plethora of different bands and musicians, as well as headlining his own events. More recently, he has been hard at work on completing his third solo album, Harlequins. Set to be released on February 23rd, it’s an accessible soft rock venture that makes for an easy listen.
“Up with the Birds” is a colourful opener, arriving with a raw acoustic riff and expressive vocals. Further string elements are thrown into the mix as it develops, adding a lot of character. The combination of the various factors at play forges a bustling and eventful musical narrative.
“Our Queen” is more of a straightforward rock number, transitioning into electric guitars and upbeat vocals. The music builds expectantly throughout, creating a lively ambience. The electric guitars stick around for new single, “What a Waste”, but the air shifts in the opposite direction. Its ominous riff unfolds gradually and purposefully amid lamentable lyrics.
“Pittsburgh It Is” returns to an acoustic riff, while maintaining a foreboding sound that’s enhanced by background violins. The vocals are sobering, joining the instruments in setting a dark and fearful tone. “Doves May Fly” is another solemn effort, made up of reserved guitar work and an emotional harmony.
“The Weight of This Room” changes things up, opting for a more positive approach than its immediate predecessors. Pounding percussion teams up with a cheery riff and breezy vocals, resulting in a fervent rock anthem.
“Robin in Black” is a warm and relaxing piece. Its reassuring riff and contented melody encourages one to sit back and unwind. An optimistic atmosphere is also prevalent in “The Chosen Few”. The lyrics are full of intent and certainty, complementing the bright instrumentation nicely.
The unconcerned vibe persists through “Good Fear”, despite taking on a mellow facade. “Victory Parade” recovers a more overt cheerfulness, sailing along nonchalantly atop catchy hooks and pleasant vocals. “Pale Mary” does a complete one-eighty on the other hand, slowing the pace for a sombre and contemplative finale.
Russell Joslin has crafted a work here that encompasses an admirably diverse variety of moods and feelings. As a whole, Harlequins is a harmless and inoffensive pop/rock album characterised by an amiable and hospitable sound.