Joseph Topping will soon embark on a country-wide tour with Elbow Jane to promote their new album, The Boldest Blood. On Monday evening he called into the award winning Glenfarg Village Folk Club for a solo performance that included new and established material.
Glenfarg Village Folk Club is a small venue – a local folk club that always extends a warm welcome to visitors and performers alike. There are several artists, Dick Gaughan for example, who seem to relish playing at these more intimate gatherings and their performance is no less accomplished, and delivered with no less sincerity, than if they were in front of an audience of hundreds or even more. Joseph Topping is one such artist.
From the moment he steps up to the microphone, and with the minimum of pre-amble on his guitar, Joseph’s vocal is note-perfect and his rich voice seems to fill the room effortlessly. Neither does he have any problem communicating with his audience; with chat, song histories and invitations to join in, his performance is engaging and professional.
The evening began with some more familiar offerings from Ghosts In The Shadows, released last year. With protest songs, tales of the supernatural and social commentary, his song-writing is articulate and true to the American blues and country influences he relishes. The audience were also treated to a preview of some new material Joseph’s been preparing for his next solo album, which he plans to start recording next year. As with Ghosts In The Shadows, there are more songs inspired by the people he met and the situations he encountered on his epic 1400 mile walk from Chicago to New Orleans in aid of The New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund. These include the tale of a released convict’s worries about being accepted on his return home, of wrong choices, or of no choice at all. A new inspiration in Joseph’s life is his seven month old son, for whom he wrote the beautiful Everything – a lesson in the important things in life “All the best songs my heart can sing may not seem like much right now, but it’s everything”
Some material from Joseph’s work with Elbow Jane was included. The tale of love and bereavement, Lord Willing, left not a dry eye in the house, while the title track from the new Elbow Jane album, The Boldest Blood, addresses some forgotten victims of war – those left behind at home to mourn the loss of their loved ones “The boldest blood bleeds first, but the heart at home bleeds worst”
Always keen to include more traditional material, Joseph’s rendition of Crooked Jack was very well received. The evening came to an end with a mainstay of Joseph’s performances – And She Moved Through The Fair, giving the audience a final opportunity to enjoy his precise vocals, haunting guitar and, as always at a folk club, a sing-along.
I’ve long looked forward to experiecening Joseph’s accomplished recordings translated to a live, solo setting. I wasn’t disappointed. Those careful arrangements, supported by such engaging guitar work, perfectly matched harmonies and precise backing were every bit as enjoyable and delivered in an impeccable performance. Joseph Topping is a craftsman with three main tools at his disposal… his voice, his guitar, his songwriting. He wields all three like a master.
Links & Info
Joseph has been appearing at Folk Clubs up and down the country. Interspersed with the Elbow Jane dates over the next few months there will also be solo performances and shows as part of The Rainbow Chasers.