Album Review: Joh – Hiatus

Joh is a Los Angeles, USA-based singer songwriter who find strength through vulnerability in her intimate new album Hiatus. Here’s my track by track rundown.

By Graeme Smith

Hiatus opens with I Had A Dream Last Night, an ethereal, acoustic guitar scene-setter. There’s certainly something dreamy about it. A layered arrangement backs repeating vocals in an extended intro before the track takes form around its first verse. Joh’s vocals are instantly captivating. I felt myself being taken away. It’s a strong start.

Like It Was Yesterday feels a little more concrete. Plucked guitar forms the melody, accompanied at key moments by strings. Joh pours out the emotion with her vocals, and there’s a confessional feel to her lyrics. At the halfway point, bass enters, providing a wonderful sense of depth.

As I Float Away is a wonderfully atmospheric piece, complete with vocalisations, licks of electric guitar and a sense of wistfulness. Where No One Knows But You & Me is a short and sweet indie folk vignette. Cross My Heart then rounds off the first half of the album. Driven by intricate, bluesy guitar, its lyrics are wonderfully image-laden. It’s an album highlight.

Rainy Daze combines traditional acoustic folk elements with dramatic experimentation, creating a soundscape into which the poetry of Joh’s smooth vocals beautifully nestle. It’s followed by Bittersweet which perfectly captures the feeling of its title. Moody bass mingles with bright, echoing guitar notes. The vocals feel both pained and pleasured.

Disposable seethes with an undercurrent of frustration and insecurity. It’s stripped-back arrangement allows you to feel the full force of the lyrics, particularly during a chorus into which Joh throws her heart and soul. As the track develops, so does its arrangement, becoming dark, ambient rock. It’s another highlight.

The Scent of You is the album’s penultimate track. A gentle acoustic guitar melody accompanies vocals that are almost whispered. It’s a track that makes you lean forward in your chair in order to pay attention to every word. Another brief one, it tees up album closer and title track Hiatus. The insecurities are put aside for a bright and confident melody and a sense of acceptance and optimism. It soars towards its magical climax.

Albums like Hiatus are a blessing. I found it to be inviting yet challenging from start to end. Joh’s openness in her lyrics and her efforts to push her sound are what make it so. It’s a wonderful introduction to her music for me, and I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for more from her. I hope you love it as much as I have. You can check out the whole album below.