Jem Bosatta is a Hertfordshire-raised, Berlin-based singer songwriter who has the ability to create a lot from a little with his music. He has just released his debut EP of eight stripped-back folk tracks. It’s called Loss & Love. Here’s my track by track review.
By Graeme Smith
Feature photo by Merle Sibbel & Mark Hunt
The EP opens with the symphony of strings and acoustic guitar that unfolds into the track Cases. Telling the story of travelling, it has the kind of peaceful, slowed down feeling of waiting to go somewhere – in a train station, in an airport – and getting lost in thought. There’s a confessional nature to the lyrics, stark against the minimal instrumentals and sung with smooth, compelling vocals. It’s a strong start.
Track two is Weeds. It opens with a delicately bright acoustic guitar melody and teems with an undercurrent of death and grief. Rich with imagery, it’s the kind of track that paints pictures in your mind when you close your eyes. Vocal harmonies create a sense of warmth that tempers the anger of the lyrics.
Memories as a similar sense of melancholia, tempered with nostalgia and sparkling with expressive harmonica. The lyrics speak of lost love, and lost youth. The autobiographical detail brings the profundity of its message to life.
Entering the middle of the EP, you’re greeted by two tracks about family. Father is dedicated to Jem’s grandfather, a folk song that is reminiscent of Cat Stevens, and a similar ability to distil the essence of relationships. Brother speaks of both Jem’s own brother, and more broadly of male relationships, and how the unspoken plays such an important role in them.
Killer changes the mood. There’s a sense of gravity about it, with its heavy, bass notes and the macabre nature of its subject matter. There’s a surprising sense of empathy too and the heaviness is met by airy vocal harmonies. A cacophony of strings at its climax marks it out as one of the EP’s most experimental tracks.
Things are rounded off by the Football In The Field and The Fountain. The first broadens Jem’s sound with percussion, rhythm guitar and woodwind. It find euphoria by escaping current pain through past joy. The second has a cantering of rhythm and a sense of longing. It despairs the lack of love in the world and you can’t help but feel along.
Jem is a musician with a way with words that really impresses me. He’s not afraid to let his lyrics take centre stage, while keeping minimal instrumentals interesting. Loss & Love really is an accomplished collection. I hope it gets Jem the international attention he so richly deserves. You can give the EP a listen below.