REVIEW: Josef Salvat @ The Hope and Ruin, 28/2/15

Singer-songwriter of THAT Rihanna cover plays his first sell-out show in Brighton.

Since his cover of Rihanna’s Diamonds (from the early-September released EP In Your Prime) was featured in Sony TV’s ‘Ice Bubbles’ advert last autumn, Australian export and singer-songwriter Josef Salvat has kept a relatively low profile.

However, fast-forward five months and here we find him, in our very own Brighton, bang in the middle of his first headline European tour (having previously supported Tom Odell and BANKS).

The Verse was fortunate enough to be invited along to his first sold out gig – at the Hope & Ruin bar on West Street.

It’s difficult to know what to expect from an artist we’ve heard so little from before now. Salvat’s only releases have been singles from the EP, which – besides airtime on Fearne Cotton’s Radio One show this week – haven’t garnered much in the means of mainstream publicity. Still, it seems he’s off to a good start with the intro to first track This Life, as he delivers an eloquent tale of facing failure to a beat not dissimilar to that of Massive Attack’s Teardrop.

There’s a strong sense of continuity throughout the show, as the artist explores past relationships, heartbreak and – in sexy ballad Every Night – that challenge of ‘punching above your weight’. It’s a theme that has been covered all too many times before, and while this does nothing for his stage presence (which comes across a lot like pubescent awkwardness fuelled by self-deprecation and insecurity at the best of times), it really does seem to give his lyrics some depth and makes his songs frighteningly familiar to the audience.

Unreleased tracks Secret and In The Audience are worth a mention here, serving as parts one and two of Getting Out of a Bad Relationship 101. There’s no doubt that the lyrics are pretty damn heavy in either song (and the moody vibes make for some great easy-listening material), but the latter appears to reflect long-awaited celebration, with heavier bass, louder drums and a faster tempo. Here at The Verse, we like a good beat.

While Open Season is an easy contender for this year’s summer anthem (the chorus in particular bringing to mind dancing at a festival with a bottle of cider), it’s his single Hustler that steals the show, where Josef Salvat plays sans band with his piano for dark reminiscences of post-relationship rebounds.

Overall, a versatile set with cleverly crafted lyrics. As he forgoes an encore to close with crowd-pleaser Diamonds, we are left to wonder when we’ll hear more from Josef Salvat. We hope soon.

By Nammie Matthews

The Verse Staff

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