Pete Josef ‘I Rise With The Birds’ 2LP/CD (Sonar Kollektiv) 4/5

‘I Rise With The Birds’ is the latest album from Bristol-based vocalist, musician and producer, Pete Josef. Continuing his long-running association with the Jazzanova founded record label, Sonar Kollectiv, Josef initially released his debut full-length with them in 2015 via the project ‘Colour’. But even by that point, Josef could have already claimed to have had a long-running association with Sonar Kollectiv having featured on tracks by Alex Barck, ComixXx and Paskal & Urban Absolutes. ‘Colour’ established Josef as an artist in his own right – a distinct sound built around contemporary pop, soul and with tinges of dance and electronica, Josef has consistently demonstrated his ability to take his music in numerous different directions, depending on what he wants to convey and which collaborator is benefitting from his golden touch at that time.

While work with the aforementioned Sonar Kollectiv artists helped to pave the way for Pete Josef’s introduction to the masses, the spirit of collaboration within his music is clearly something that he thrives off of particularly when considering the epic list of past collaborators: Jazzanova, Roni Size, Jody Wisternoff, Manu Delago and having played guitar as a part of the band for the Kelis project, ‘Live From Metropolis Studios’.

His is an exceptional résumé bolstered by a debut album that was befitting of his numerous talents. Five years later, however, Pete Josef assumes his position at centre stage with the release of ‘I Rise With The Birds’. And the album’s opening two numbers do exactly that – the immaculately produced ‘Night Eyes’ and the folk-esque ‘Friend On The Line’ both do a great job of showcasing the singer and songwriter’s vocal over vastly different compositions. A real injection of energy is introduced with ‘Giants’ which features the awesome vocal of Marie Lister who makes a welcome return to the proceedings particularly when considering her invaluable contribution as backing vocalist throughout ‘Colour’. Taking ‘Mainframe’ as another of the album highlights – a track immersed within an electronica-based aesthetic is swiftly followed by the luxurious, sweet soul of ‘Lavender’ and it’s a transition that works incredibly well.

That very technique is what has defined much of Pete Josef’s music to date and it’s a testament to his talents that he’s able to execute this confident dabbling between genres, seemingly, with ease. While ‘Colour’ delivered in Josef’s pop and R&B sensibilities, the project further benefitted from its accompanying remix album which saw contributions from a dream team of DJs and producers having been assembled including Mark de Clive-Lowe, Envee and Potatohead People. Some accompanying remixes for ‘I Rise With The Birds’ would certainly be nice but the album is such an accomplished piece of work that it already stands confidently all on its own.

Imran Mirza