Oregon-origin family trio Joseph brings its upbeat folky anthems to Privatclub on Sunday at 8pm.

With their tight harmonies and bright lyrics, Joseph comes to the continent having already won over the States, where they sang their way to guest slots with Jimmy Kimmel and Ellen DeGeneres. The trio will grace Kreuzberg in a tour that includes names like Union Chapel London and – soon – Coachella.

“It wants to push you back into your home, stop you from going out and living your life. No thank you!”

The tour promotes their acclaimed second album “I’m Alone No You’re Not” (ATO Records), released in late 2016 to widespread praise and international attention.

Real hope, not fake happiness 

Hit single ‘White Flag’ is typical of the combination of realism and optimism that the family, in particular former music student and elder sister Natalie Closner, likes to inject into their music.

“It’s a response to everything going on in the world,” Natalie told the audience at NPR Tiny Desk Concerts. “It wants to push you back into your home, stop you from going out and living your life. No thank you!”

Watch the concert below; notice the poise and peacefulness of Natalie and her younger sister, who wrote the slower and deeply personal ‘I Don’t Mind’. And above all listen to their words, which avoid the classic pitfall of feel-good folk – too naive, too smiley, Insta-ready. It just doesn’t add up.

But ‘I’m Alone No You’re Not’ finds its feet between joy and despair, as they dig into darker corners in S.O.S – “I know there’s something real/Lately I’m haunted/These shadows hold me here” – before uttering the empowering rally call of White Flag: “I’ll sing a marching song/And stomp through the halls”.

Divine inspiration

Natalie hinted at the source of much of their imagery and their irrepressible silver-linings instinct, in an interview with Irish Times, when she alludes to the sisters’ home-schooled and Christian upbringing: a family of ‘big dreamers and believers’.

While their (erstwhile) beliefs aren’t an explicit theme in their music, there’s definitely some Old Testament grandeur in the above quote from Whirlwind – based on the book of Job – or in the softly powerful Planets: “I am a planet turning round the sun/With a brilliant blaze of glory.”

“Can you grab hold of the earth’s four corners
And shake shake shake out the darkness?” – from ‘Whirlwind’

It’s difficult to capture the full richness of a singer’s voice on a record. But with these three, their combined verve has a cosmic quality even over the Internet. Maybe it’s a family thing. In any case, we shouldn’t miss the chance to hear the real deal while they sing at our doorstep.

‘Joseph’ will play at Privatclub, Skalitzer Str. this Sunday 12 February. Buy your tickets here.

Photo by Ebru Yildiz. Article by Jem Bosatta.