If Bon Iver’s Blood Bank presented itself as more of an amalgamation of the quiet intimacy found on For Emma, Forever Ago and the lavish opulence of Bon Iver, Bon Iver, rather than a stop-gap collection of b-sides, it would likely sound similar to Ed Tullett’s Never Joy. Full of beauty and anguish, amidst grace and dynamism, Never Joy is a portrait of young, yet tortured melancholy, well beyond the artist’s years. Written at only 18 years of age, this UK-born songwriter is one whose agile and slender falsetto finds particular redolence with that of Sufjan Stevens, a finesse perfected over years of bedroom recordings.
Lively and uniquely down-tempo, Tullett’s most distinct quality as a songwriter is his ability to effortlessly layer acoustic guitars, banjos and keyboards into grandiose textures of rich and unsparing vigor whose powerful density creates larger than life crescendos. By the same token, it’s this propensity for lush compositions that causes Tullett to often stumble into the realm of redundancy, where tracks often bleed into each other, echoing soundscapes exceedingly similar to those that preceded. Chalk it up to inexperience, or a youthful disposition towards familiarity and caution, Ed Tullett’s Never Joy makes for an exceptional debut album despite such missteps and foreshadows the bright future and direction he will likely develop on future releases.