Portland is known to those who reside in the rest of America as the hipster capital of the country. Everyone there has a beard and some interesting or outlandish job, right? Well, maybe for some. But there’s also some pretty great music coming out of Portland at the moment. Bluegrass king and the new host of Prairie Home Companion Chris Thile calls the city home, as do the She & Him duo of Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward, and more newcomers onto the scene, including the sister trio Joseph.
Comparable to the Swedish sister folk duo First Aid Kit, Joseph is comprised of Natalie, Allison, and Meegan Closner. Their latest record, I’m Alone, No You’re Not (released August 2016 via ATO Records) has helped catapult the band into the charts and onto our Spotify streams. The first single released from the record in May, “White Flag,” was premiered on NPR’s Songs We Love, and ultimately paved the way for the successful release of the band’s sophomore record.
Plenty of hidden gems abound in I’m Alone, No You’re Not, including the evocative, harmony-filled second track on the record, “SOS (Overboard).” An easy-listening style tune with a dark undercurrent, the song dives into the feelings of the singer as she navigates the waters of the early stages of a relationship.
You don’t see me
My eyes are closed and I swear
You can’t see me
I want you close but my arms are holding you back
I’ll wait for you with both my eyes shut
You don’t see me
But come here close,
Tear my hands down, pull off the blinds
Look me in the eyes
Listen: “SOS (Overboard)” – Joseph
After a few easy, introductory guitar chords, Natalie Closner finally breaks the instrumental with the self-aware lyrics of the first verse. So far, based solely on the title of the song and the second line (my eyes are closed and I swear), we can assume that the singer is under water (later in the song, this is confirmed), and she’s not alone at this point in the water she finds herself submerged in. Ironically, water usually represents cleansing, life, and freedom, but in the case of “SOS (Overboard),” water is representing a relationship (or even just the prospect of a relationship) that’s making the singer feel suffocated, or like she’s drowning.
But at the same time, it’s clear in the pre-chorus that she wants to be with this person:
I know there’s something
I know there’s something real
Lately I’m haunted
These shadows hold me here
At the same time, shadows are most likely a metaphor for something in her past that she can’t let go of — let it be a failed relationship or maybe not having the best role-models for what a healthy relationship looks like — and she can’t get away from those negative connotations and thoughts.
In the chorus, the reference to being stuck under water is made literal:
Screaming under water (SOS)
Can you hear me calling (SOS)
Did it to myself, now I need your help
Alone and overboard yelling SOS
Right off the bat, the first line of the chorus sticks out. Sound doesn’t travel as well underwater, since the sound waves have more density to travel through. Metaphorically speaking, this could mean that the singer feels like she’s throwing her worries and qualms about the relationship into a void, and that her worries may not ever be heard.
Watch: “SOS (Overboard)” – Joseph
In the end, the worries of the singer never seem to be resolved. Even through the second verse, she’s directing question more specifically toward her presumed lover:
My hands are shaking
Nobody’s been here before
Oh will you see me?
Is it enough?
Will you wake up
pull back the blinds
Look me in the eyes?
By addressing “someone” specifically, Joseph help the listener connect more personally with the song. We get a feeling of inclusion, as if we’re listening in on a private conversation — a conversation we might also be having difficulty starting.
“SOS (Overboard)” fits in neatly with a playlist you could title “songs for the lovesick,” hitting on the complicated, mixed emotions that come with turbulent times. However, I’m Alone, No You’re Not isn’t just full of pop-ballad tunes that deal with relationships, and that’s what helps set Joseph apart from other so-called “family-bands.” It’s easy to find tunes that celebrate life: Try “Comet” or “Whirlwind” on for size, and of course don’t miss the ever-popular “White Flag.” With their mature, diverse approach to music and lyrics, Joseph are not to be overlooked.
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cover: Joseph © Ebru Yildiz
I’m Alone, No You’re Not – Joseph
:: Joseph :: Tour 2017 ::
February 1 – Glasgow, UK – Broadcast ~
February 2 – Belfast, UK – McHugh’s Bar ~
February 3 – Dublin, IE – Whelan’s ~
February 4 – Manchester, UK – Soup Kitchen ~
February 6 – Brighton, UK – Komedia Studio ~
February 7 – London, UK – Union Chapel ~
February 8 – Bristol, UK – The Exchange ~
February 10 – Amsterdam, NL – Melkweg ~
February 11 – Hamburg, DE – Molotov Musikclub ~
February 12 – Berlin, DE – Privatclub ~
February 14 – Cologne, DE – Yuca ~
February 15 – Brussels, BE – AB Club ~
February 16 – Paris, FR – La Boule Noire ~
February 23 – Fayetteville, AR – George’s Majestic *
February 24 – Dallas, TX – Dada *
February 25 – Austin, TX – The Parish *
February 26 – Houston, TX – The Heights Theater *
March 1 – Athens, GA – Georgia Theater *
March 2 – Asheville, NC – Grey Eagle *
March 3 – Knoxville, TN – Bijou Theater *
March 4 – Cincinnati, OH – 20th Century Theater *
March 7 – St. Louis, MO – Delmar Hall
March 8 – Kansas City, MO – Madrid Theater *
March 10 – Denver, CO – Bluebird !
March 11 – Fort Collins, CO – Aggie Theater !
March 12 – Salt Lake City, UT – State Room !
March 14 – Missoula, MT – Top Hat Lounge !
March 15 – Spokane, WA – Knitting Factory –
March 18 – Vancouver, BC – Biltmore Cabaret –
* Kelsey Kopecky opening
! Marshall McLean opening
– Windoe opening
~ Old Sea Brigade opening