Single Review: Joy Is You // Oscar Jerome

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‘Joy Is You’ is the new single from extremely talented guitarist and vocalist Oscar Jerome. This is the fifth single and closing song from incoming debut album Breathe Deep which will be released on 14th August. Released on Friday 3rd July, ‘Joy Is You’ is a lighter, more stripped-down sound coming from the South-London based artist, but one which aids his stunning vocals and gentle melodies. 

Norfolk-born, Jerome – who also plays in Brownswood-signed Afrobeat group Kokoroko – thrives off of London’s burgeoning jazz scene and has collaborated with reputable names including saxophonist, bandleader and composer Shabaka Hutchings, drummer and producer Yussef Dayes and drummer Moses Boyd. Jerome’s tracks are an example of excellence having trained in jazz guitar at the esteemed Trinity Laban Conservatoire. ‘Joy Is You’ may be a softer sound compared to previous releases but it is an enticingly poignant track, blending simplistic yet skilful jazzy acoustic guitars with reflective lyrics flaunted by smooth and effortless vocals. The song was also released with an accompanying live video directed by CHILD studio, set on a balcony on a hazy sunny evening. The perfect setting to this seamless sentimental wonder. 

Speaking of the song, Jerome said: “’Joy Is You’ has been with me for many years. I’ve recorded it on salt marches, beaches, lakes and multiple studios – in many ways that was more therapeutic for me than for the world to hear though. I wrote it celebrating the birth of my nephew. It pays homage to my family in general, past, present and future. With the loss of the older generation comes the birth of a new one: “…. the past looks through the window and rejoices in the blood flow”. Maybe some of the other recordings will surface one day.”

The high-anticipated album Breathe Deep brings in an army of collaborators that have been noted as having an integral part of Jerome’s journey so far. These guests include several of his fellow bandmates in Kokoroko and Jo Armon-Jones, as well as friends in Sons of Kemet, Maisha and Steam Down not to mention critically acclaimed singer-songwriter Lianne La Havas. The record arrives off the back of a fast-growing catalogue which welcomed support and playlisting from the likes of 6 Music, Radio 1 and 1Xtra while also having embark on packed-out tours around the US, UK, Europe and Australia (including a tour with American jazz maestro Kamasi Washington).

In support of the new album, Jerome has now announced a UK/European tour kicking off this November that includes a stop at London’s Electric Brixton on November 25th. On the album, he said: “Breathe Deep’ is a pretty broad presentation of who I am musically and my journey to get to this point. On a personal level, it’s a reflection of the effort put in during that path of self-bettering, both emotionally and in life more broadly. It’s about preparing oneself for failure and growing from that. Taking a moment to step back and see where things are going and where one has been. It also addresses the resilience of people, which is reflected in the more political moments on the album. The world is a messed-up place, but people still find ways of preparing themselves for it.” 

We look forward to its release on August 14th – you can pre-order Breathe Deep here.

Words by Aisha Fatunmbi-Randall

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