Joseph of Mercury‘s self-titled debut EP just feels so right. Soaked in mysterious vintage varnish ⎯⎯ often harkening to Bowie and Elvis Presley ⎯⎯ his first body of work is cohesively-attached, masked in anguished lamentations about love, loss and lust. Even the way he curls out “baby, baby” on “Young Thing” possesses a languid, hazy Lana Del Rey-like swerve. His backstory remains largely one of folklore, but tasked with frail, exposing confessionals ⎯⎯ “I love it when you speak to me like we’ve never met / It makes me feel like strangers again,” he whispers on “Do You Remember,” a smoldering romp as opener ⎯⎯ Joseph W. Salusbury, as he’s known in real life, is a radical-eyed fox.
“Without Words” is the fantastic offspring of Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” upended by Salusbury’s blue-jean-faded breathiness and a miraculously more intense, driving backbone. “Nothing can compare to us,” he wanders, dazed and sinking low into the ghostly careening of the background vocals. “You’re the kind of high that makes me laugh and cry because I die every time you walk by,” he conjectures on “Angel,” which is sticky with sweat and connect-the-dots piano work, rattling drumsticks and a doo-wop swagger. “I could never live in a world that didn’t have angels,” he later supposes, tenderly cooking each syllable.
In “Tarot,” he muses on his “dangerous life,” locked in a deadly, thrilling bloodbath with a lover ⎯⎯ marvelously sinister but rousing. “And we never found our home, dear, no matter how hard we tried / But we wouldn’t let it stop us when we wanted to touch,” he beseeches, the arrangement spinning out into the madness rumbling inside his skull. But “Find You Inside” perfectly blends his penchant for grooves, hooks and mood-based compositions: his voice is at its most captivating here, both intimate and vast. Joseph of Mercury displays a wealth of potential across only six songs, and now that he has our full attention, he can finally unleash the rest of his hand.
Grade: 4 out of 5
Joseph of Mercury’s EP is out now on iTunes, and you can spin it below, via Spotify: