Born in Liberia, Joseph Eid endured the bonds of war at a rather early age. During the People’s Redemption Council, tribal wars ravaged the blistering African landscape, turning it into a blood-riddled world, particularly devastating for a young boy as impressionable as he was. His family then hastened to Beirut, no small trek by any means–but civil war was tearing that nation to shreds, as well. The Lebanon uprising wouldn’t subside until the early ’90s and by then, Eid and his family had made their way to the states, setting up shop in Westchester County, New York. Immediately, it was evident he didn’t fit in, and it took him a number of years to find his solace in music.
Throughout the next increasingly-pivotal years, he put his nose to the grind to craft his signature folk and singer-songwriter blend. His debut full-length record, 2013’s Human, deals in earthy shapeshifting and often inhabits smokey James Taylor–picking up tips from Billy Joel and the earnest pluck of Wood Guthrie along the way. Now, nearly four years later, he’s returned with his Watch It Fall EP, a brooding set which seems to straddle folk, pop and slow-cooked ’90s rock in decidedly measured ways. “Starting Over” is as if he’s wiping the slate clean, picking up shards of Weezer and the Cranberries, too. But his grainy roots indebted him to the craft. His fate had been sealed long ago: and he was now fulfilling some kind of cosmic plan. “Tomb (Walked Away)” continues his boundary-pushing shakeup, and his voice has enough punch to feel comfortable in its own skin even on the brink of crackling. “I placed my bets on a future…instead of love,” he discloses on the song’s final frames. He wields his voice like a highly-skilled archer, pulling back his vocal ticks with abruptness and ease and releasing it–the razor-edged arrow cascades through the air and pierces the heart.
“Emotions will always come and go. Let them in, feel them, and then let them go. A wise friend once told me that it’s best to base your decisions on our vision,” Eid once shared with print magazine EILE. “Your [vision] is much more consistent. You don’t have to ignore your temporary feelings but know they will change, as sure as the night will turn into day. But your dream, which is essentially your true vision of who you are, will remain the same.” Even when the melodies are sweet and polished–as on the reggae-brushed “Diary” and the driving title cut, in which he muses “I watch it all fall, fall, fall down, from the roof to the walls to the crown to the ground / I watch a dream sink, sink low, low, low”–his conviction clings to each word, like a yellowed, antique novelette from the 18th Century. “Watch It Fall” comprises the core themes of the record, seeding his truths in life, love and pursuit of happiness. “Did you hear? We’re taking turns breaking hearts and burning bridges,” he tosses out on “One and Only,” a simmering downtempo containing a rather poignant dissection of his journey navigating physical lusts and genuine relationships.
The degree to which he goes to bare his soul on a meager six songs, which closes with the funky slink of “Let Me In,” is substantial. From the evocative storytelling to his lush interpretative skills, the extended play has enough biting grooves and playfulness to suggest he has plenty more where that came from. Now, the world is his oyster, and we’re ready to partake.
Watch It Fall EP is out now on iTunes.
Must-Listen Tracks: “Starting Over,” “Watch It Fall,” “Let Me In”
Grade: 3 out of 5