Raw talent is the type which resonates with the listener, stirring something beyond just appreciation – realisation. It was when I first listened to Josey Marina that I realised the true capacity of music to unlock even the smallest experiences – something the 18 year-old singer-songwriter based in Manchester upholds in her work. Bursting beyond the modern-day expectations of age, Josey’s flowing vocals and rich acoustic tracks tell of the intimacy, the intensity, of human experience. It’s no more complicated than that – and her ‘Tired Sun EP’ takes us in honest, unapologetic steps, from ‘in the orange grove’, to the ‘same old roads’ and a range of other experiences – appreciating each aspect along the way.
Atmospheric, yes – but isolated? Not at all. Josey’s already provided a wide range of output, which includes collaboration with the likes of composer and producer Michael Langley, for Sky TV. Just as she shares sensation in her songs, what is also clear is her capacity to share creative spirit with other artists. This includes work with the hip-hop act Akcadamy, individual artist Oliver Taylor, and she’s also worked to provide visual art with other musicians, including Paul Hinks from Some Kind of Illness. Josey could appear a catalyst for contemporary sound; hence there are big things expected for her upcoming EP, a sequel to ‘Tired Sun’. Having already performed in intimate venues across Manchester, delivering her songs in succinct, shimmering bursts (haikus significantly influence her writing style and this is clear through profound yet pared-back lyrics), here is certainly a rising talent worth watching.
Rather than today’s typical exhausted acoustic numbers which focus on dramas, lost love and old angsts; Josey’s at her best when she’s contemplating, through song, the world around us – clear through her releases so far. ‘Tired Sun’ could be considered an EP unlocking the personalities of summer – the type of music which reminds you what it is to be really alive, aside the ‘digital age’, downloads and screens. Ready yourself for a modern musician who uses sound to scrape back the facades to what we really want; hot, whole experiences – like the company of someone dear or listening to a burst of birdsong. The sequel is under work, and I, for one, am incredibly enthused.
Simple pleasures, skilful music
It is hard to believe that Josey has achieved so much at her age – with her first EP ‘Tired Sun’ released in 2014 when she was 16. Again, what becomes clear is a shunning of social barriers and a passionate involvement in experience through her music; allowing her to explore the physicality and patterns through which we live – gender, routine, looking out to nature . Even her early covers such as ‘Long Way Down’ (On her Soundcloud) speak of a real confidence to express experience meaningfully – typically pared down to acoustic guitar and voice alone, as many of her tracks are. To explore the human condition and experience well requires consideration of the senses; and the simplicity of arrangement allows this, unlocking each sense individually. First we are drawn by the sound of her spiralling vocals, then the closely recorded guitar coming so you can almost feel the fingers on the fretboard.
Her ‘Tired Sun’ EP, is fine example of music which focuses as much on feeling then, as it does on sound – so very welcome when so much modern music seems to prde itself on its ‘equipment’ but not necessary emotive involvement. It’s a perfect pocket of her art in the form of four songs – serving as a great fuel for what is to come. Acoustics are confident and clear, vocals tantalizing ; The opening track ‘Citrus Girl’ is simple yet dripping with promise, perhaps like the very ‘orange groves’ sung of. The song stirs up a whole, hot image – fruitful in itself- as Josey’s voice occupies every note, easing us into a tale of a girl ‘sipping ice tea in the orange grove’. What is clear is the power of this music to take a single image or instance, and immerse the audience in it – plunging you into a hot creative flow. It makes you appreciate and want to inhabit your senses more intimately; craving to pull an orange open and appreciate every last part of it.
The sheer enjoyment of musical artistry is what is clear here – and you can take this a step further, in the very form the EP takes. ‘Tired Sun’ is available not only online but in CD format, complete with crafted card sleeve and Josey’s own artwork. She invites empathy in the merging of life and art; something she speaks of being moved to by other artists; Lana Del Rey, Ben Howard, Grimes and Kate Bush as just some examples of her inspirations. She explores artistic roots, without being overly sentimental – and this can be seen in her stage presence too. Notable gigs have included a stunning performance at Factory in 2014, which has been followed since by events including supporting Some Kind of Illness at Club Academy and Indie Week Europe at the Castle Hotel.
Prepare to be taken on a trip through the emotions
The sensory nature of Josey’s work is emphasized not only in the simple arrangement of vocals and acoustic, but an underlying theme within the first EP and as is expected in more of her upcoming releases – the weather. It is the ultimate method for exploring the senses, but Josey does not use it an over-tired or expected way. Instead, the weather makes the mood as we follow perceptibly female characters through the course of ’Tired Sun’. You may feel heat bathing the skin of the girl under the orange groves, or the cold creeping over the characters ‘walking the same old roads’ in ‘Georgie’.
Holding the tracks together clearly is not only experience, but character also. We become acquainted with a number of male-styled antagonists in the EP, including ‘Jack Frost’ from ‘Georgie’ and in ‘Fake Birds Song’ we meet the ‘tired sun’ of the title. Deliciously echoing lyrics describe him as ‘king of the clouds’ but Josey’s repetition of ‘capture’ turns this so-called sun into something small. What stands out is the line, lingering along with a beautiful burst of harmonica ‘in the morning I am coming home’; a distinct female voice bursting through the themes of weather and the senses. Because what matters here, her voices urges, is sensory experience; the type this music treats us to. We don’t need to need to lose ourselves in cryptic clues , symbols and set messages (what feel like overly-used methods of creating intrigue, especially by new bands)– we can face the richness of the world in each moment. This is a liberating message not just for women, but for any one, as Josie herself reflects:
“ I like to think about the colour of a song and the overall poetry and metaphor – as opposed to singing about a particular ‘message’ or something. When writing I often like to come up with a scene or atmosphere which I then try to bring to life through song; this was the case for Beyond The Black, for example, I could see this sunset all round my head and needed to find a way to bring it out and make it some kind of reality.”
An opportunity for us to express our own light
The closing track of the first EP then is not ‘closure’ at all, but affirming rich reality, condemning ‘fools in their shadows’ through hauntingly beautiful vocals reflecting on a ‘dying sun’. Don’t be a fool yourself, be part of participating in the light – her music is sensory in a way which feels almost necessary, indicating that there is so much more to come.
What I notice particularly in her work, is that Josey lays out a series of tempting, even famous symbols, but through the sound she creates, shows us that human expression can take us so far beyond it. Beyond the Black. It’s especially her allusion to symbols which society typically ties women to, often negatively, such as birds, fruit and sun – which she shatters and turns inside out.
Thanks to Josey’s exploratory vocals and emotive power, we realise an end of the old symbols, the old hierarchical structures – which is an opportunity for us to express our own light. An artist prepared to do this, so young and yet attacking these barriers of ages, promises exciting things for the future. Hence why I can’t wait for her upcoming work, and all it will illuminate.