words by Michael Hutchinson

Joseph Salvat has been a busy man. The Australian-born, London-based artist recorded his recently released debut album Night Swim over the last two years, and during that time also provided vocals for tracks with Tourist (on ‘Holding On’, which also featured Niia) and Gryffin’s ‘Heading Home’ from last month.

Three tracks make the album cut from his 2014 EP ‘In Your Prime’ (‘Open Season’, Shoot And Run’ and ‘Every Night’) with ‘This Life’ making up part of the International Deluxe Version of the album alongside his poignant cover of Rihanna’s ‘Diamonds’ – the track which got Salvat noticed.

Salvat recorded ‘Open Season’ and ‘Paradise’ in French for the local version of the album which was released last October, just before his 27th birthday. Despite making the rest of the world wait, in an industry where it is easy to fall behind, Night Swim doesn’t sound aged. Given also that this is a collection of songs he has written over the past 13 years it is no mean feat.

‘Open Season’ – one of my favourite songs of last year – is the perfect, well, opener, full of breathy nuance and sunset soul. ‘Paradise’ has an aura of swagger and a tropical flavour Van She would be proud of. Salvat thought it imperative that the music live sounded like it does on the record, hence the string sections and choirs used as part of the production

There’s a wave of varied tempos that run through ‘Night Swim’; it starts with a rush then a dip to piano-lead ‘Hustler’ and ‘Punchline’. ‘Closer’ picks up the pace before the drive trails off again. ‘These Days’ is sandwiched between some epic ballads but in short, whilst there is plenty of diversity within the album it can feel a little stop-start, I’d have backed it alongside the fierce ‘Constant Runners’.

On ‘Closer’ there’s no echo in his voice in the verses but movement by way of finger clicks, and a beautiful string section in the chorus. Salvat even manages to throw in a shout-out to his home town. ‘Til I Found You’ shows Salvat’s voice is just as clear and strong when shallow and light.

‘Hustler’ explores sexuality in an obvious and provocative fashion but it has a sparse and brooding struggle that makes it addictive, whereas ‘Shoot And Run’ is straight up eerie and enchanting though delightful all the same. ‘Every Night’ explores country twang and closer ‘A Better Word’ is just as emotive as anything Adele has put her name to.

Josef Salvat’s intriguing debut bruises as much as it heals. It’s simplistic but far from cautious and crafted in such a way that one does indeed want to explore the notion of skinny dipping at night.

In a word: Delicate
Highlights: Closer, Night Swim, Open Season, These Days
For lovers of: Raleigh Ritchie, Chet Faker, Thomston

Rating: ★★★★

Night Swim is available now through Sony Music Ent.

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