EP Review: Joe Fin: The EP

‘Energetic and funk-filled from beginning to end, it’s one hell of a debut.’

Intro to Joe:
To say that  Joe Fin’s sound is incredible, would be a huge understatement. While his sound is indeed that, the tracks this Essex based musician creates go way beyond that. Releasing his debut track ‘Love Sick’ in the June, proved that while he may have stepped out from his previous band ‘The Broken Chords,’ stepping into a different musical dimension is no bad thing. Taking inspiration from the likes of Prince and David Bowie, Joe’s tracks sound like they belong in the 80’s while sounding bang up to date.

Featured Track 1: Love Sick
Throwing us straight in to his funk-filled sound, the introduction to ‘Love Sick’ makes you feel like you’ve landed in the middle of a phrase. And what a phrase it is. Crammed with insanely catchy riffs, it’s one hell of an opening and within seconds, you feel like you’ve travelled back in time to a funk and soul club in the 80’s.

Taking us towards Joe’s initially whispered lyrics of ‘Help… Doctor,’ an equally fragmented texture bursts into life. Setting off with a persistent, heartbeat like bass drum, groove-filled synth and bass guitar riffs interlink with each other. If a musical homage to funk and soul was what Joe was after, he’s already achieved it.

Reaching the initial verse, we hear Joe’s true voice for the first time. Joined by harmonic and multi-tracked vocals, you can’t fail to notice the Prince-like edge to it. Maintaining the track’s energy, the multi-layered accompaniment develops and in doing so, begins to introduce increasingly funky sounds. While the main atmosphere of the track doesn’t really change as we move into the second verse, as we reach the chorus, a more chilled, half-time vibe is reached. However, this doesn’t last long and on reaching the chorus, the original rhythms return.

As if there hadn’t already been enough musical treats to this point, an instrumental interlude comes to the fore. Based on riffs from earlier in the track, the sound builds to an almost hectic state, where you lose track of just how many sounds there are. Full of stand out moments and relentless energy it’s an incredible debut.

Featured Track 2: Saturday
Opening with a combination of palm muted and echoing guitar chords, the initial atmosphere to ‘Saturday’ seems a little less full-on. However, while the drums are noticeable by their absence, the use of syncopated and on-the-beat rhythms gives the track an equally fantastic sound. Don’t be fooled though, things are soon to musically change and as the beat kicks in and Joe’s vocal soars through, the track sounds just as promising as the opening one.

Unlike the use of accompaniment in ‘Love Sick,’ its use in ‘Saturday,’ is paired back. However, when I say that, I mean paired back by Joe’s standards. Certainly don’t expect to suddenly hear a solo piano! What you can expect to hear though, in the case of the verse, is a variation of the opening chord-based riff. While this verges on dominating the sound, it never really stands a chance of getting in the way of Joe’s vocal. The same can also be said for when the mood changes at the pre-chorus and then again at the chorus itself.

Here, the track switches to a no-nonsense funk-infused sound similar to that in ‘Love Sick.’ Almost in celebration of the weekend, the previous elements and Joe’s vocal are joined by accented soaring synths. Ever-developing, this energetic atmosphere segues into the second verse ensuring there is no time for a breather. However, that is to come. Well, kind of.

Following the post-chorus, an interlude of distorted soaring synths begin to take the track in a different direction. Combined with this, a deep-bass sound takes on the role reprising the chorus melody. As unusual as it is to have the melody on a bass instrument it works perfectly in the context of the track and is a stroke of musical genius.

Continuing in this manner, the texture builds intensity and taking inspiration from earlier and forthcoming vocal lines, overlapping synth and guitar melodies begin to emerge and Joe’s vocal takes on more of an accompanying role. However, as we move into the latter stages of the track, the focus shifts and in doing so sees Joe’s powerful pitch-bending vocal take centre stage. Joining with the already interweaving texture, the end of the track reaches a new dimension with every note. However, while it can make any night feel like a ‘Saturday’ night, it’s nothing compared to ‘One Dance’.

Featured Track 3: One Dance
Initially bringing contrast to Joe’s debut EP, ‘One Dance,’ sets off in a more laid back way. Gone are the full-on sounds, and gone is the sense of energy. ‘What’s going on?’ you wonder. Is this opening, based on subtle guitar strums, swirling melodic synths and rim-shot infused drums, really in a track by Joe? Fear not, as while it showcases another side to his sound, Joe has also given us a few seconds to catch our breath. And you certainly need to.

Bursting out of the calm introduction, an infectious ‘Boogie Nights’ style riff emerges. Ah, there we are, back to Joe’s trademark sound. Following this, the initial lyrics enter. Full of power and controlled rasp, Joe’s vocal has a sense of freedom about it and combined with the rhythmical accompaniment the full-on energy has returned. Ensuring this doesn’t wane, as we move through the chorus – and the instrumental link which follows – soaring, pitch-bending keyboard lines and fanfare like synth brass hint at what is still to come.

Bringing a similar vibe as the first verse, verse two, (and the resurgence of the chorus,) sees a return to the earlier settings. However, throughout these, there is one thing that stands out and that is Joe’s musiciality and ability to push his own vocal range. While it may generally stay around the same vocal range, the mid-point of verse two sees him leap to into his falsetto. Unexpected, yet seamlessly executed, it adds yet another element to what is already an incredible track. However, while the track’s structure to this point may have been the only predictable thing, this is also about to change.

Slowing down the pace for all of two seconds, the track hints at returning to the opening atmosphere. However, in what is quite possibly the stand out moment of the whole EP, we are to be thrown once again into Joe’s full throttle sound. Combining all previous elements of the track with improvised synth and guitar lines, the sound takes off like never before. Not only is it full-on musicality, it’s full of musicality and as we quickly dip into the chilled sound before a final chorus, you realise this is a track you need to dance more than once to.

Featured Track 4: Trust In U
Closing the EP, Joe introduces us to another side of his voice. Softer and slightly husky in tone, it’s a bit of a surprise after having three powerhouse tracks, but it’s most welcome. Initially set to a stripped back, drum based accompaniment, it feels like a break-down section that you would expect to hear later. However, what this does is set out the rhythmic elements for the track and when joined by bass and electric guitar, makes perfect sense.

Alongside this development, Joe’s vocal also begins to head back towards its former sound. Guiding us to a pre-chorus of swirling guitar chords and multi-layered textural sounds, the verse sets up what is to become an alternating sequence of Joe’s calmer and more intense styles. It’s a strong, possibly risky decision, but it is one that definitely works.

In contrast to the verses, the chorus is driving and un-relenting in nature. Featuring syncopated funk guitar chords, call and response vocals and variation melodies, it’s just as infectious as the other tracks. However, while the first rendition of the chorus makes way for verse two, the second one, makes way for the track to become more stripped back before being re-built, to be stripped back again. Here, the tempo really slows down and with the use of vocal harmony, you feel like the track is only one chorus away from concluding.

However, while the chorus does return, it is far from the end of the track and taking us in a highly contrasting direction the calm ending of the chorus is interrupted by a burst of sound. Full of modulations and overlapping, experimental sounding ideas, the final section builds from nothing to a point where Joe’s musical mind is ready to explode. Trust me, if you want incredible, up to date funk music, put your trust in Joe.

Joe’s debut EP ‘The EP’ is available to buy on iTunes now and you can catch him performing live at BBC Intro Essex, Harlow Playhouse, 7th November.

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