"Sabotage Myself" by Joe DolmanReview
I'm pleased to report to readers that the brand new Joe Dolman single, "Sabotage Myself" has been released this morning.
Since the previous one, the very fine "No Matter How Far Away" came out less than a month ago, he's clearly on hot composition & recording form: aided on this occasion by Keir Gibson on the writing front and by long term collaborators Jack Arnold (production) and Matthew Cotterill on mixing.
After what I think was a particularly hot streak of singles (plus his ‘Until You Fall In Love' EP) which explored a wide range of emotional states including the last one or "The Lucky One", Joe has returned, to some degree, to what feels like an exploration of a more introspective, reflective mindset which characterised the run of singles prior to that.
I can only come to the conclusion that deep down, Joe is fascinated by the dynamics of internalised analysis and self critique given his coming back to a subject area he'd already explored so deeply. At the time, I remember writing that I worried that too much of that sort of soul searching would lead not just to unmerited self deprecation but also a state of melancholia.
After much reflection of my own plus the evidence that Joe seems happy enough as a person, I'm hereby publicly amending my views: I now wonder whether this tendency of his is, if not full blown slipping into character in his songs, at the very least a form of emotional speculation: as if he is keen to tease out what it must be to have these feelings: which (if that's what's going on here) is a fine thing for a sensitive songwriter to be trying.
Beautifully constructed and performed as usual, my next thought is around how he manages to put across so many songs of such intimate scale to the sizes of audiences he now usually plays to? It's quite remarkable. Sparse and delicate as the arrangement is, it wouldn't surprise me if he later strips it back even further as he has so often released acoustic versions of previous singles.
Where "Sabotage Myself" goes beyond earlier songs of self reproach is that he appears here to be taking on ideas associated with mental health issues as well as any sense of personal failure based upon acts over which he might reasonably be expected to have any control. The more one plays "Sabotage Myself", the more one is struck by the implications of what he's actually saying: it's the beauty of the tune which distracts one to begin with (I do hope people listen to his words: it's worth the exercise).
A couple of times I've broken one of my own rules & tentatively suggested songs as "possibly one of my favourite Joe Dolman tracks". This time out, I hesitate to nominate it for "his most disturbing" but I did consider it. Maybe "his most unsettling" or "thought provoking"? It will certainly pull you up with a bit of a start I think.
Joe has been a great writer for a long time now, but it's always good to hear people keep on moving & "Sabotage Myself", while it sounds as fine as any other of his songs, is a darker Joe Dolman & for the sake of his career (but hopefully not his psyche) that's a potentially useful diversification.