Every time we do a year end, best of list, we inevitably leave albums and songs off of our list. Sometimes it takes us months to hear those albums, other times, like this time, it takes us a day. Joshua Hyslop is an immensely talented singer-songwriter, whose voice has a special quality to it and has the songwriting and guitar chops to match. Where the Mountain Meets the Valley is the kind of album that you search for and hardly ever find. It’s the sort of album that we have a hard time talking about. It’s an album that makes you feel.
The album begins with what may be it’s best track, “Do Not Let Me Go”. It’s a soft song, one that showcases Hyslop’s voice and his songwriting. With lines like “From the moment I was born I have been dying./ Yeah, we walk along towards the great unknown./ Is it love if I have given up on trying?/ Singing, “Oh my god, don’t leave me alone”, it’s clear that Hyslop has the uncanny ability to perfect paint a picture in very few words. There’s a really cool mini-interview before this version:
Another near perfect song is “Time Alone”, this time a much deeper song that begins, “Time alone can’t save you, if that’s what you’re waiting for.” This song feels like a very personal song and is sure to take on that same tone to anyone who listens. It feels like, when I hear it, that the song was written to me or for me and I think most people will agree. Here is perhaps the most eloquent verse of 2012:
Time, they say, can heal you. Though, that’s harder to believe,
When you meet the broken hearted and see what it meant to leave.
And with all my misconceptions of what it takes to change
I guess I’ll end up just the same.
“I Wish I Was” is a heartbreaking honest song about knowing that someone loves you and not feeling it in return. It’s a feeling that seems out of place in such a beautiful song, but it’s honesty and sadness make it unique. There’s some William Fitzsimmons in “First Light”, a song about being on the other side of the previously mentioned song. The fingerpicking and the juxtaposition of this song after the last one make a unique choice for this point in the album. Finally, while I wouldn’t use Dylan-esque to describe this album, Hyslop’s cover of “Shelter From the Storm” is brilliant. Taking one of the best Dylan songs and adding your own unique style to it is ballsy, but it pays off completely here.
Joshua Hyslop created one of the best acoustic albums of 2012 and I missed it then, but I’m happy to bring it to you now. It’s full of emotional and personal songs, soft, piercing vocals, and a mellow guitar style that makes the songs more impactful and meaningful. Where the Mountain Meets the Valley could easily be the first step towards major acclaim for Joshua Hyslop, so get it before everyone else does.