With powerful singing and a compelling narrative, Angela Josephine’s “Got to Believe” demonstrates why she’s been such a long-lasting force in Michigan’s indie folk scene.
“Belief is a complicated thing,” folk singer Angela Josephine observes. “It can shape us in all sorts of ways and divide us in even more… If, however, we can evolve with our beliefs, we can experience a living faith that is fluid and open to inclusion.”
“Got to Believe,” a standout track off Josephine’s upcoming full-length record, explores this spiritual theme in considerable depth. The song is brimming with professionalism throughout its four-minute runtime — textured production, confident vocals, and thoughtful lyricism. Given its author’s background and experience, that should come as little surprise.
there’s dust in your pockets
change in your shoes
a hole in your soul
you’ve got nothing to lose
no one to have you
and no one to hold
just a prayer and a bible
and what you’ve been told
thoughts in your stomach and
hunger in your head
it’s the only thing keeping
you alive when you’re dead
Listen: “Got to Believe” – Angela Josephine
Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering “Got to Believe,” the lead single off Angela Josephine’s forthcoming album Daylight (independently out May 4, 2018). Angela Josephine has been active in Michigan’s indie folk scene for the past fifteen-plus years, ever since the release of her debut album, 2002’s A Restless Sense of Urgency. She has stuck to her roots with her latest project, recording in Detroit and Ann Arbor with her fellow Michigan artist and previous collaborator, producer Chris Bathgate. Daylight is structured as the arc of experiences of a certain female protagonist. “Got to Believe,” the first song on the tracklist after a short introlude, marks the opening chapter in this woman’s life journey.
The intent of this track, according to Josephine, is “to reveal a more inclusive world,” to the point where listeners start “brushing off the vestiges of tired beliefs.” Religious allusions have been a common theme for the Christian folk singer, and she keeps the tradition afloat with this track.
fall on your hands
dig with your knees
I’m begging you please
won’t you fall on your hands
dig with your knees
you’ve just got to believe
As the song begins, the woman in the lyrics is trapped in a bleak state, with “nothing to lose, no one to have [her] and no one to hold, just a prayer and a Bible and what [she’s] been told.” Similarly, the chorus suggests that faith would be her escape: “Fall on your hands, dig with your knees, anything, anything, I’m begging you please.”
These themes and rhymes aren’t necessarily the most innovative ones in indie-folklore. But the second verse does provide some compelling insight into the world of the woman in the lyrics: it’s a world in which there are “waves on the sky,” “clouds in the sea,” and “the blind all have sight.” Such oxymorons hint at the idea of there being limitless possibilities in such a universe, and it’s all up to our heroine to make the most of them.
“Belief is a complicated thing,” Josephine shares with Atwood Magazine, diving deep into her new song and its connection to her own story. “It can shape us in all sorts of ways and divide us in even more. If belief systems stay stagnant, they become rigid and eventually a barrier. If, however, we can evolve with our beliefs we can experience a living faith that is fluid and open to inclusion.The first instance of inclusion begins with the self. To me this is the core of unconditional love -to be accepted and loved, not in spite of who you are but JUST as you are. And in a weirdly paradoxical way, that gift of loving yourself is directly tied to dying to self -a kind of “get-over-yourself and get-on-with-loving-others” reality –an organic and authentic response to acceptance rather than a blind adherence to a set of rules or laws.”
The music here is truly splendid. Josephine is a well-seasoned vocalist, who is able to carry the whole song effortlessly, and the accompanying range of drums, guitar and other instrumentals proves to be hard-hitting. Bathgate produced the entirety of Josephine’s last album, Stone Bright Solid, Volume 1, and clearly she was rise to bring him back for the follow-up.
Angela Josephine is “able to pen songs that get under the shield of the post-modern muse with power and poignancy,” according to her official website. It’s not bragging if you can do it: “Got to Believe” makes for a captivating listening experience.
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📸 © John Mark Hanson