Over the last few months or so, the hype that has been surrounding Eaves, the moniker of Leeds singer songwriter Joseph Lyons, has been gently ascending. He’s already created enough of an impression to be invited by Nick Mulvey to support him at his shows last year and As Old As The Grave, his debut EP, was a taster that struck a chord with those who discovered him early on. Signed to Heavenly, his first LP, What Green Feels Like, is more of a proper introduction into his world – one that is thoughtful, considered and not afraid to take risks.
To simplify it as merely a folky-sounding album would be to downplay its strengths. It’s the work of someone whose influences are wide-ranging, from traditional folk to psychedelia and with even a bit of metal thrown in. He is known to be an admirer of proggy bands like Opeth and elements of that show in the album’s more adventurous moments. The crashing drums of Hom-A-Gum create an exhilarating sense of tension alongside a spiralling piano that shifts its melody gradually over the space of six minutes. Then there’s Purge, a delightfully heavy and bluesy crawl, combining deafening roars of electric guitar with soft acoustic strumming.
Not all of What Green Feels Like is as daring. However, even with just a sole instrument at his disposal, Lyons can conjure some hauntingly beautiful stuff. Alone In My Mind and Timber offer lovely antidotes to the record’s most boisterous moments, but the real hidden gem might be Creature Carousel, which closes out the album in devastating style.
All nine compositions also place the spotlight firmly on Lyons himself. His vocal performances throughout are just as fearless and self-assured as his songwriting. The phrase “wise beyond his years” (and variants thereof) comes up a lot in pieces about him, and with very good reason. That he’s only 23 is incredible given how mature and confident he sounds. His falsetto in Creature Carousel sounds strained and weary, and on Timber he is a particularly compelling presence. He is also adept at harmonising; As Old As The Grave is Bon Iver-esque at points whilst the layering of voices on Hom-A-Gum are hypnotic.
The best thing to do with a record like this is to let it wash over you. Whether he is being intimate or expansive, the end results are vivid, striking and intense. There are several reasons to why What Green Feels Like is such a stunning listen. At the very least, this easily fulfils the promise of As Old As The Grave, and marks out Eaves as one of this country’s more intriguing and rewarding new voices. Best of all, the fact that he’s still so young gives the promise of more spectacular things to come.