It Has to Point Somewhere…

Gathered from various concert performances over the past decade, Don't Talk About Love—a 16-track album that spans a decade of Martyn Joseph's work—plays like a live show, stacking layer upon layer of audience interaction and Joseph's own spur-of-the-moment ad-libs to create a tangible intimacy. His strong voice and simple guitar melodies complement his songs, which invoke a social conscience and dig deep into the heart of the human experience.

Joseph's particular strengths are folkie protest anthems and lyrical narratives that capture the lives of ordinary people. "Being There" and "Sunday's Coming" blend a deep sense of spirituality and social critique into an almost-biblical rebuke, as Joseph aims his poignant lyrics against the Powers That Be and their disregard for the least of these. Showing his versatility as a songwriter, Joseph delves into the realm of theology in "He Never Said," offering a clever critique of "Christian" practices that have little to do with the teachings of Jesus. He later takes on the perspective of a young boy struggling to find something life-affirming amid the human wreckage of Kosovo in "The Good in Me Is Dead." In "Everything in Heaven," Joseph sings about the loneliness of everyday life and the frustrations that will only fall apart in heaven.

Joseph's music is deeply rooted in the human experience. While his lyrics often take on a political flavor, his songwriting is most alive in the stories of people. A careful observer of the human condition, he captures both the aching and longing of life as well as its beauty. In "Kiss the World Beautiful," he balances the friction of life against the beauty of the world. Even amidst the worst suffering and despair, Joseph uncovers what fellow songwriter Leonard Cohen called the cracks where "the light gets in."

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Sojourners Magazine July-August 2003
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