Written By: Fletcher Bonin
The Harboring, Joshua Thomas’ six track EP released in 2014 is pure, unadulterated music devoid of the flash and pomp that so often plagues the industry. His breathy, lingering vocals soar from bass to tenor with astounding control before careening back to the velvety lows in a pendulum-like swing. The songs off The Harboring feature Thomas singing usually against just a solitary piano, occasionally joined by a carefully strummed violin. However, it must be said that his vocals carry the weight of the load, enhanced by the instrumental accompaniments but not reliant upon them.
His voice and lyrics combine to create a heartfelt, vulnerable sound on songs like the first track ‘Weeds’ on which he sings “Don’t you love me anymore?” to an unknown listener. His songs seem to tell a story, often focusing around love and more often about the pain that comes with love. The former is portrayed in his song ‘The Disillusionment’ in which he sings “all your friends were my friends for a while and you showed me that my heart could stretch a mile.” This, like most of the EP, encapsulates perfectly his contemplative nature and the self-reflective tone imbued throughout all 6 tracks.
The Harboring is the breakup music that we all tell our friends we don’t listen to when another relationship has ended. It is simultaneously somber and tenderly hopeful. This vibe comes to a fore on my personal favorite track ‘Beast’ on which Thomas sings “cut me out cut me out I need to be lonely.” This self-awareness is embodied in every song and Thomas’ inflections and lingering vocals only gives it more life. Perhaps the most popular track off the EP is his ‘Paper Heart’. I find the lyrics to be particularly intuitive on this track, which was originally released as a single. On it, he sings “glad that my heart is only paper it must be hard to wear this weight on my sleeve.” Clearly he really is wearing his heart on his sleeve, as he presents himself so vulnerably and openheartedly to his listeners and even to those who have no idea who he is. At least, that’s how it seems to my ear. It’s heavy stuff handled gently and endowed with all the importance it deserves. Joshua Thomas deserves a listen, and while the themes he deals with on this EP may at first seem heavy or overly-deep, I encourage you to give his music a chance.