Josephine commences the EP with the title track, making an immediate stiff impact through the words of various people giving their take on what they – and many of the public – consider the terrible state of British politics recently and currently. With that tone freshly brewing in the air, Jo gets things musically running with Measured, featuring provoking lyrics that taps into negative, nihilistic mindsets, the effects of those, and how it’s scarily become the norm in a way.
After that is the first of the pair of singles on offer: Enemy, which is perhaps Jo’s most beautiful track to date, thanks to a perfect mixture of earnest words, absolutely stunning strings, transcendent vocals and a fiercely addictively main hook. Gone To War has a lovely beat and in the latter half features sweet melodic piano keys and a sprinkling of light guitar chords, and the structure gives it a likeably poetic, folk vibe of sorts.
Then we come to the other single, California, another extraordinarily potent number with palpable writing reflecting on the failing environment of the planet and how it’s already digging its claws into certain parts of the world; case in point, California, bridled with forest fires and the like so often in recent memory; and the dual harmonies are just flooding with heartfelt emotion, and the tender Happy proves to be a great finale to efficiently cap off this collection.
I’ve been enamoured with Josephine Sillars and her talents dating back to 2015 when given the opportunity to review her Ripped From The Wire Spine EP, continuing on through a string of lone releases including Vincent, Down and the flawless Problems With Power, but Desperate Characters is on another level altogether.
The songs on this record are swelling with complex themes that are tackled in a strong and sophisticated manner, explored to a deep degree as opposed to being simply touched upon. Beyond that fact, the tunes are so expertly crafted and Jo’s skills as a performer only improve and impress all the more with each passing year.
Desperate Characters is hands down one of the finest Scottish releases of 2021 so far, and there’s little doubt by now that Josephine Sillars is one of the best, most respectable musicians to have emerged out of the Highlands over the last decade.