'Until You Fall In Love' EP by Joe DolmanReview
When you are as skilled as Joe Dolman at writing material, unusual things can happen. I was lucky enough to be present at the Godiva Festival set he played when he unveiled a brand new song which he was intending to release as a new single. When it got nearer the time I was expecting it, I checked in with him only to find the song I'd particularly liked will come out as planned (next year) but in the meantime he's sharing a whole extra EP with us which is called ‘Until You Fall In Love' and comes out on 1st December. It must be very pleasant to be both talented and so prolific in this way.
So what is Joe giving us for an early Christmas present? Well it's a three track release with a title track, another one called "All I Need" and a third one: a celebration song but to confound simplistic expectations it relates to a wedding & not Christmas (though it certainly puts in an appearance) & it is called "I Found You".
As anyone remotely familiar with his interests in writing (and indeed looking at the song titles I suppose), we are dealing with his examinations of affairs of the heart: love, relationships etc: the positive emotions in life. Closer examination of his work will reveal that though love predominates in his work, it's not necessarily always around romance as such: it can just as easily be around friendships and family. However in this case, I'm pretty sure the trio are more about romance & presumably that played a part in grouping them together for the EP.
Equally the EP has a sonic internal consistency: this is one of Joe's intimate sets where his acoustic guitar is the central instrument rather than the fuller arrangements he also favours on other occasions. These are close quarters numbers: I suppose one of his many defining qualities (and possibly one I've not emphasised enough in my reviews, so thanks for the opportunity to do it now) is Joe's ability to convince people that even in his biggest audiences, he is addressing the listener personally & uniquely. These come across as confidential tracks & sometimes I get the impression that I may be intruding on a very private conversation.
The three songs actually link together as if they are all parts of a larger story of a couple: though starting with a wedding makes the narrative a little unconventional in sequence. What I especially liked about "I Found You (The Wedding Song)" was how Joe's lyric writing has somehow found yet another gear. Always one of those writers who make it sound so easy & again, like he's having a conversation with you, with this song there is a particular poetic quality in the rhythm and combinations of sounds which caught my ear.
"All I Need" is one of his introspective songs which again is another trademark. However, and I want to make this next bit very clear as it relates to something I've been touching on in many reviews of recent work, I was finding it very noticeable that the product of all his reflections across multiple singles, tended to have him beating himself up over some perceived fault of his own in a relationship. I did comment on this trend & hoped he'd cheer up in time & I'm very pleased to say that this EP is evidence that though the reflection is still there, he's now drawing positive outcomes from the process. I'm pleased for him.
The title track itself closes the EP and sounds rather as if a lot of it is stuff he's been storing up for the right time to pour it out. Curiously it includes thoughts on the adequacy (or lack of) "love songs" to accurately capture the truth behind genuine love. Is he saying to us that he realises that the ability of a songwriter to write about it is very hard: I'm sure it is. I also wonder, especially taking all three songs together, whether this is something he's been pondering for a while and that this EP is his own attempt to raise the bar as far as his own work is concerned? From a listener's point of view, I'm not sure he needed to be very worried: he always sounded fully authentic on that score & I felt it was one of his obvious attractions as an artist. On the other hand, I do admire him for such a conscientious approach & if he opts to try & develop his writing still further in terms of capturing love, that's something to applaud.
Of course beneath the apparently effortless simplicity which sits on the surface of this highly accessible EP, there are elements of craft sitting. The singing & playing are of course of the highest order and repeated plays reveals not only neat touches of other instrumentation adding variety & texture but what I suspect are festive nods (not so in your face as to distract from the song though) such as a gently chiming guitar here & a choral vocal multi-tracking there.
Considering I was expecting another song altogether (and I look forwards to that in 2023), ‘Until You Fall In Love' took me by surprise: which is nice. More importantly, it breaks new ground for Joe in the ways I've outlined above & he deserves our respect for that & hopefully sales & reception to match.