There comes a point, after living with pain for so long, when you just become numb to it. You submit to living with the trauma because the alternative – confronting it – is that much more terrifying. ‘From When I Wake The Want Is’, the follow up to Kathryn Joseph’s Scottish Album of the Year Award-winning debut, was written during a year of utter heartbreak and follows her descent into the darkest realms of her own psyche. On it she truly reckons with her sorrow, and emerges stronger for it.
Guiding us through her gnarled mind, Joseph’s burdens are eased as they become our own. Brutally candid, almost uncomfortably so, there is no pretence of joy here; every moment of respite is muzzled by darkness. A severe piano melody overwhelms placid drums on ‘Tell My Lover’, as Joseph sings about obsessive love. “Tell my lover it’s not over until we drown,” she declares with a chilling vibrato, her grief hits hard. Haunting the album like a nightmare, her inability to let go wrings its most tragic moments. “How do I let go of all this fucking love,” she asks weakly on the title track – knowing full well she can’t.
Since writing ‘From When I Wake The Want Is’ Joseph has climbed out of her personal abyss, though the spectre of her pain lingers. The album lays all her wounds bare as she faces down, and eventually casts off, her own despair. Her heart has mended, but the scars are permanent.