The Intimacy and Warmth of Familial Harmony: A Night with Joseph And The Sun Review+Photos: Joseph at The Belasco 4/29/23
LOS ANGELES, CA- Singing in a chorale group all through college, I can say that I’ve tuned my ear to appreciate beautiful chords and harmonies. I’m sucker for beautiful harmonies. And if there’s one thing I’ve noticed, singers who have a bond with one another tend to blend better and convey more than just sound. Vocal harmonies by family members, I’ve noticed, can be particularly enjoyable to listen to. There’s just a certain unique blend to their voices and an emotional connection that can be conveyed through their voices that singing together not all singing groups can convey. When family members sing together, there is often an inherent familiarity and closeness that comes through in their vocal harmonies, creating a sense of intimacy and warmth that can be difficult to replicate in other settings. There’s also the implied notion that having grown up singing together they may have developed a natural chemistry and understanding of each other’s voices, allowing them to create intricate harmonies and arrangements that may be more difficult for unrelated musicians to achieve. It’s just a deeper level of musical collaboration and communication, resulting in a more cohesive and nuanced sound.
Joseph is a “family band” consisting of three sisters from Oregon: Natalie Closner Schepman, Allison Closner, and Meegan Closner. The band, named after their grandfather, has been creating folk-pop gems together since 2014, drawing on their familial bond to create harmonious, emotionally-charged songs.
Touring support of their third studio album, The Sun, Joseph stopped by The Belasco to entertain Angelenos. The Sun, per the band, is a 10-track journey towards self-realization. Each member of the band contributes a unique viewpoint, adding texture and detail to the album’s emotional arc. For example, Allison’s lead single, “Nervous System,” explores her experience of overcoming anxiety, while Meegan’s “The Sun” is inspired by a past relationship. The album showcases the band’s commitment to clear-eyed self-reflection, with their therapists serving as a major influence. Working with renowned producers and songwriting collaborators, including Tayla Parx and Wynne Bennett, the band spins complex concepts into catchy pop songs, providing a captivating backdrop for their personal storytelling.
Through the making of the album, the band learned to speak their truth and stand their ground, hoping to empower listeners to recognize their own strength and self-assurance. I wanted to experience them speaking their truth live.
Opening for Joseph was the British indie rock band Flyte. This band has been making waves in the music scene since they burst onto the scene in 2015, and I actually caught them performing live a few years ago at SXSW. Now a duo consisting of Will Taylor on lead vocals and guitar and Nick Hill on bass, Flyte has earned a reputation for their catchy melodies, soaring harmonies, and introspective lyrics. I’ve always found Flyte’s music to be both nostalgic and fresh, combining timeless melodies with modern production techniques to create a sound that is both familiar and exciting.
When I first saw Flyte perform, it was in a church at SXSW. They played a stripped-down set that focused on their four-part vocal harmonies. This performance was even more stripped down with only two members remaining, but the music they played was simply impeccable. The two-part harmonies they sang served as an additional instrument, beautifully accompanying their gentle guitar playing.
During the performance, Will mentioned that a new album was in the works and would soon be released, emphasizing the point that it would feature a full band. I imagine there will be more songs like “I’ve Got A Girl” and “Victoria Falls” rather than “Archie, Marry Me”, but I certainly hope there will be an equal balance of the two sounds. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a sucker for beautiful harmonies, and I know that Flyte can deliver on that.
The trio of sisters, Natalie, Meegan, and Allison Closner, delivered a powerful and emotionally charged performance that left me feeling uplifted, inspired, and empowered. As soon as the sisters took to the stage, I could feel the energy and excitement building in the crowd. When they launched into their opener, “Love is Flowing” (which is ironically the closing track on The Sun), among the simple lighting and minimalistic decor of the stage, the sisters’ harmonies blended seamlessly, creating a beautiful soundscape that set the bar for the mood they wanted to project for the rest of the night.
One of the things that made Joseph’s live performances so special was the connection they had with their audience. The sisters were not afraid to get personal, sharing the stories behind their songs and their own experiences with vulnerability and self-discovery. They invited the audience to be a part of the journey, to share in the emotions and the empowerment that their music inspired. The band played tracks from their latest album, “The Sun,” as well as fan favorites from their earlier releases. Each song was performed with incredible passion and emotion, and the sisters’ harmonies were nothing short of breathtaking.
But it was not just the music that made a Joseph concert so special. The sisters were incredibly engaging and charming on stage, interacting with the audience in a way that made everyone feel like they were part of a big, loving family. They were not afraid to let their personalities shine through, cracking jokes and sharing stories that made the audience feel like they had known them for years.
Whether they performed stripped-down arrangements of their songs that allowed the beauty and power of their voices to shine through, or they rocked out hitting Fleetwood Mac levels of rocking (the title track, “The Sun”, among others definitely rock with the best of them…. I definitely used the word “rock” too many times here….) with the rest of the band on stage, they had the audience completely transfixed. When their popular/familiar songs were performed, fans in the crowd gently sang along, perhaps not wanting to disturb the beautiful harmonies coming from the stage. Their voices blended and added to the music in the room, making those “quiet” moments powerfully beautiful.
Overall, Joseph’s live performance was an experience that was not to be missed. The sisters’ connection with their fans was palpable, and their energy and excitement on stage were electric. The audience was left feeling uplifted, inspired, and empowered by the end of the night. If you ever have the opportunity to see Joseph live, don’t hesitate. It will be an experience that you will never forget.