Joseph Topping,
Take Me Home
(self-produced, 2004)

Joseph Topping is a talented singer-songwriter in the Northern England acoustic/folk tradition epitomized by the likes of Chris While and Julie Matthews -- appropriately, both provide additional vocals on this album. Topping also draws, on this, his second album, on the passionate singing style of John Wright, with whose band he has toured. Among an accomplished group of musicians supporting him here are Joe Wright and Maartin Allcock, who both appeared on Wright's last album, as did While and Matthews.

Despite these pooled resources, Topping finds a strong voice of his own, especially through his original songwriting and sincere delivery.

Topping's acoustic set-up allows the listener to concentrate on his singing, which is mostly about love -- both positive and negative in about equal measures. There is an American and bluesy feel to some songs, not least in "Heaven Help the One You Love" -- one of the most distinctive songs on the album. The darker side of life explored in songs like "I Hope I Get to Heaven" is balanced somewhat by more confident feelings like in the concluding "On We Sail." Throughout the album though there is a sense that a troubled heart is never far away. A very moving song about the evils of landmines, "Sowing Dragons Teeth" makes a strong impact.

So this is an assured and powerfully emotional album. However, I do wonder if Topping is holding himself back a little too much in concentrating on the acoustic approach and mainly love songs. His voice has enough of an edge to allow him to experiment more and potentially develop in several directions in the future.

- Rambles
written by Andy Jurgis
published 14 May 2005

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