Joslyn Daniel – Ruminating Thoughts – EP Review
Yay! I love moments like these. I’m gonna make Joslyn Daniel’s world both a little bit bigger & smaller at the very same time by writing this review…but shhhhh…don’t tell her yet – we’ll get to all that in a bit.
She’s definitely on the right path, that I can tell ya upfront. Listening to both the sound of the music on “Into The Void” and the absolutely stellar vocals Joslyn’s got start out this debut EP called Ruminating Thoughts was one of those moments of complete confirmation that came quickly – as in, yep – she was born to be an artist, and that’s crystal clear from everything you’ll hear on the first spin through track one. Working with a highly relevant for sound for the right here & now with the Alt/Indie vibes of “Into The Void” diving into R&B, Pop, Emo, and practically Hip-Hop as well in this hybrid opening cut. She’s got a ton of melody in her voice…you can argue that she’s singing at any time, but she adds in significant speed to her vocals, rivaling the bars you hear in the modern-day era that confidently walk the line of what’s essentially rapping. The POINT is that Joslyn instantly displays a ton of versatility & skill in all of these areas and proves she can hold her own without question as she reflects on what love was, and what love could have potentially been. There are lots of great qualities to Daniel’s music that make themselves known right away in this first impression – her spellbinding vocals and natural rhythm in the flow of this song is quite likely gonna have no problem at all standing out to the listeners out there – she’s got technique, she’s got style, she’s got character in her voice that gets to the heart of the thoughts, feelings, and emotions she’s looking to communicate through her music – and you can hear that her unfiltered approach to songwriting gives her tracks an powerfully honest and raw edge to them that feels like we’re all ripping the Band-Aid over Joslyn’s heart and peering into the wide-open wound. It’s like Dream-Pop & Trip-Hop combined, and remarkably catchy…”Into The Void” instantly confirms that we’re listening to a fearless artist & songwriter that’s not afraid to be vulnerable, open, and real with us through her music…and words cannot express just how much that makes this sincerely connect. To say that Joslyn sets the tone for the EP here in this first cut would put me in the running for the understatement of 2021 – “Into The Void” might sound inviting & even comforting in its dreamy mix of melancholy, because it is – but don’t get it twisted either y’all…Daniel’s been burned hard by love and putting her true self out there, just like many of you have experienced yourselves. This song is every bit of a justified emotional reaction to how relationships fall apart and what it’s like to live in the aftermath – and if I may be so bold, you can hear from the fierceness of Joslyn’s voice in the hooks that she’s come out stronger on the other side of it all. The inspiration that brings out our best can come from anywhere – right up to & including heartbreak, love & loss, as you all know – Joslyn found a way to turn personal tragedy into empowered art she can be proud of and music where listeners will benefit from the lessons she’s learned. “Into The Void” is gonna be very highly relatable to some of y’all out there, just sayin.’ Regardless, she’s got hooks that connect from verse to chorus, and an excellent gateway into this EP.
It didn’t take me more than a mere two seconds into “Never Again” before recognizing exactly what it was I was hearing. Y’all ready for this? Let’s make Joslyn’s world real BIG by explaining the fact that, I’ve actually heard this cut many, many times already – so YEP, mission accomplished – this single worked its way around the internet just as it was intended to – and not ONLY did it make the rounds, but obviously if I was able to recall it as quickly as I did, she put together something savagely memorable. Now let’s make her world SMALLER – and let her in on a secret she may, or may not know…this isn’t my first time writing about the music of Joslyn Daniel. While this is the first time Daniel has official appeared here on our pages – in behind the scenes, sometime back at the very beginning of this year in January, I was actually commissioned by someone out there to write the official press release for “Never Again.” Told ya folks – it’s a small world, this beautiful independent music-scene we share, ain’t it? A solid representation of what this record is really all about, diving into themes of infidelity, heartbreak, and the personal regrets of trying too hard to make something work that was never meant to be in the first place – “Never Again” is a massive anthem for those that have ‘been there’ & stuck inside a relationship where your value & worth were not appreciated as they should be. “Never Again” is about recognizing all you are, and finding that courage inside you to walk away from the past in effort to make the future better than the present. While it dives straight into the gritty & graphic details of how this particular relationship she was involved in crumbled, at the end of the day, the chorus also brilliantly reflects the fact that Joslyn’s learned the lessons this situation have taught her – and you can hear her confidence surge in the hooks. You know that she’s not going to waste her time pining after anyone that’s not fully reciprocating the love she’s got to share, and rightly so – “Never Again” isn’t about swearing off of love entirely, it’s completely about knowing she’s gonna make significantly better choices in the future to follow. As much as I’d love to say that’s an easy task – it’s not. You can tell Joslyn is an intelligent & empathic person from the way she crafts her lyrics and the emotion she sings with to back her words up pound for pound with every syllable…but the brutal reality is, we just get burned by the occasional asshole out there sometimes, no matter how hard we try to avoid’em and say “Never Again.” When it comes to matters of the heart over the course of time, we can trick ourselves without intending to…all we can do is the best we can and hope that the lessons we learn along the way that make us say “Never Again,” do what they’ve done for Joslyn, and make us stronger on the other side of it all as we move on.
Because c’mon now y’all…if you can’t recognize the strength of her songwriting and how fearlessly she’s detailed what she’s been through on a track like “Questioning,” I do not know how to help ya, and I suspect that you’re listening upside-down. I’m tellin ya dear readers, dear friends…Joslyn Daniel might very well make a different style of music than a Taylor Swift or an Alanis Morissette, but that same ability to take the smoldering ashes of a relationship and turn a heartbreaking experience into pure gold certainly exists here. Sound-wise, she’s actually a bit closer to something like The Cardigans here, but with more weight & substance to the material than you’d usually associate with that band…I’m talkin’ about the deeper cuts…those dreamy emotional vibes that are every bit as sensational as they are sensory…songs we feel, just like “Questioning.” At the end of the day, as fantastic as her performance IS – I gotta admit, I think it was the songwriting that probably impressed me even more when it came to this particular track…the lyricism is absolutely on-point, and the poetic nature of her imagery is complete proof that not only does Joslyn have a gift for expressing exactly what she wants to say, she’s able to do it all with style, class, grace, or pretty much any other way she wants to say what she has to say. “I wish I could just blackout the final piece of us” is such a powerful line…and you feel that hit you straight in the heart like a full on punch as she ends “Questioning” with it at the very end…it’s kind of like the concept & theme of Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, translated perfectly into song form. It’s so very, very hard to separate all the good things that might have happened before the final ending of a relationship…over time, that does eventually get easier I suppose…but there are always scars left behind, as Joslyn will tell ya herself on “Questioning” – what we’ve been through, makes us who we are.
Joslyn absolutely shines as bright as she potentially can through the clouded emotions of her lyricism on “Venus-Mars,” with an evocative performance that’s as every bit as fully entertaining as it is endearing. Heartbreaking too for that matter…were it not for the uplifting melody that resides at the core of this song, chances are Joslyn would bring us all to tears from the sentiment in this track as she dreams out loud about a love that seems to elude her. The struggle can be extremely real y’all, and you know that’s true when it comes to life & love – it can seem like the two people in a relationship, whatever that may entail, can come from entirely separate planets sometimes. Hence the title, in a way, which reflects that as subtly as subtle can be with a simple “Venus-Mars,” which would I suppose would technically be a reference to a 1992 book that was published by John Gray called Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, which went on to become somewhat of a popular way to describe the complexities of our communication in relationships ever after. I would wager a guess that the thinking in that book is probably remarkably outdated now, but its impact is still resonant today. Think of it this way – that book traveled so far & so wide that it basically became a permanent part of our pop culture & history – that’s not just an accomplishment, that’s actually amazing – and I’ve got the math to prove it. By my count, Gray’s book is now twenty-nine or nearly thirty years old – and Joslyn here? She’s 23. She might not even know about where this whole metaphor traces back to herself, given that she’s younger than the book is! Me? I’m not. I grew up as part of Generation X and I’m older than dirt now y’all, so yep – you better believe Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus was always on the coffee table of my living room while my third set of parents tried to navigate not becoming the inspiration for a fourth through whatever self-help the book offered. *Spoiler alert – it didn’t work. At least not for them; and I’ve lost track of how many parents I have now. Anyhow…I’m off on a tangent here…it’s related of course, because anywhere that a song might send you in your mind as you listen always becomes relevant in its own way…but you can definitely infer from a rambling like this, that an artist like Joslyn is more than capable of getting the wheels of your mind turning while your ears absorb these heartbreaking tunes she’s laced throughout Ruminating Thoughts. It’d be hard to argue that “Venus-Mars” wouldn’t be the most accessible cut of the bunch in terms of the masses listening out there…it’s essentially flawless to the nth degree from performance to production, and you can hear the inspired spark in Joslyn’s vocals as she sings this tale of love from afar. For those of you out there that have ever felt a certain type of way about a certain someone that doesn’t seem to see you trying your level best to get their attention to take a relationship to the next level…if you’ve ever felt invisible, ignored, or just straight-up like someone is missing out on the special person YOU truly are…believe me, you’ll have no problem at all connecting to the sentiment of this cut. I honestly don’t think she’s made a single mistake or left anything for me to advise her on to do better on that next upcoming record throughout the whole course of listening to Ruminating Thoughts – but that being said, I’d still wager a bet that the majority of ears out there will find their way to this very song as the overall consensus for what the EP’s most universal track is in the court of public opinion. I’ve got no issues with that choice whatsoever – Joslyn sounds as alluring as she does grounded, and it creates this genuinely stunning vibe that’s got a ton of sweetness within its heartbreaking core concept.
Even “Space (Interlude)” still speaks volumes on behalf of what Joslyn is capable of as an artist. An ethereal atmosphere that has her using her voice like an instrument in the mix throughout this less-than one-minute tune; it’s like she pretty much can’t help but sound sensational, captivating, and enticing. It’s a really vivid moment in time that’s full of dreamlike vibes – it might not last long, but the piano is a perfect pairing with Joslyn’s vocals in this low-key cut…I’d listen to this fine lady sing the phonebook when it comes right down to it, I think she’s got an exceptional voice, and better yet, knows exactly how to use it and get the maximum potential out of every note & tone she sings. “Space (Interlude)” takes you from the end of the previous cut “Venus-Mars” and adds an extra transition between that & the final track to follow, “Up To You” – no objections here…it’s not the most crucial cut on the EP, but it’s still more than welcome for sure. Daniel’s got the X-factor…your ears follow wherever she goes to next.
Let’s be real here – she’s got herself a vibrantly moody & expressive record that hits the mark right on target throughout the entire lineup of Ruminating Thoughts. Ending her debut EP with “Up To You” – Joslyn’s definitely had love on her mind throughout this record, and revealed so many of the relatable & real struggles we encounter in the pursuit of it over the course of Ruminating Thoughts and the multiple facets of its emotional depth. As I always like to remind you all – the more YOU that you put into YOUR music, the more WE connect to it – and this entire EP is a perfect example of how going the personal route makes all the difference in the world. She’s definitely got wild potential when it comes to this whole music-making thing and a lifelong career as both an artist & professional songwriter – she reminds me a lot of Esthero on this final track “Up To You” – and despite having a comparison here that I can draw on, the uniqueness is more than tangible, even still. The most you’re gonna find me conceding to ya is that I probably connected a bit more to the other main four tunes ahead of it on this record, not including the interlude…part of me wasn’t always 100% sure of the tone in the guitars being where it needed to be…part of me thinks that the other four cuts beforehand were just that much stronger, which is obviously gonna happen in the course of any given record at some point in the lineup. We all have our favorites, we all have those moments that connect to us more than the others do – doesn’t mean a song is bad or doesn’t measure up somehow – “Up To You” is still a quality track. It’s hard to say if this cut doesn’t open the door a crack from where she’d potentially closed it before, or if this is perhaps the beginning of something new…but yeah…there was just a little something different about the overall theme & vibe of “Up To You” that felt like it might have maybe been a better fit on the next EP or record, as opposed to this one here in a way…though sometimes I’d spin through it, and be convinced that this was a perfect ending, with Joslyn looking ahead to the future and confirming that she hasn’t given up on love despite all she’s been through & all she’s experienced. You see what’s been happening here? Her Ruminating Thoughts have had my own thoughts ruminating throughout this entire review, and coming up with all kinds of crazy theories as a result…so I better put a cap on my pen, and get this posted up for ya before I write a whole other ten pages to tell ya about Joslyn Daniel and keep us here all week reading. You get it I’m sure – she’s got an insightful way with her words, an authentic fearlessness when it comes to her writing & the way she performs, and a sincere style that connects. Listeners are gonna find her moving, relatable & undeniably real – because she genuinely IS – there’s no doubt whatsoever that she’s got an extremely bright future ahead if this is where it all starts; Joslyn should be proud of the artist she’s become, and this EP stocked full of gripping melodies, beautiful melancholy, and Ruminating Thoughts.
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