Big Joanie - Back Home (Daydream Library Series)

Big Joanie – Back Home (Daydream Library Series)

Since releasing their debut album Sistahs in 2018, London trio Big Joanie have seen their profile rise pretty considerably. The trio – singer and guitarist Stephanie Phillips, bassist Estella Adeyari and drummer Chardine Taylor-Stone describe themselves as a black feminist punk band. If that description puts you off, frankly that says more about you than them. And more fool you, because this is a brilliant album that grows with each successive play.

‘Punk’ wasn’t ever just a sound or look, it was about attitude and mentality. If you envisage simply three chords played very loudly and a lot of angsty shouting, then you need to listen to what Big Joanie have to say. The title works on several levels and that’s pretty typical of what the trio are about. Like the album’s title for example. Phillips explains: ‘The album title references a search for a place to call home, whether real or metaphysical. “We were really ruminating on the idea of a home and what it means. It’s about the different ideas of home, whether that’s here in the UK, back in Africa or the Caribbean, or a place that doesn’t really exist; it’s neither here nor there.’

Album opener ‘Cactus Tree‘ is a slow burner, and it’s a sign of the trio’s confidence that they open with this, as less assured acts might have felt they needed to hit the ground running in a more obvious way. Apart from in the folk idiom, few acts would open their album with an eerie, gothic folk tale that tells the story of a woman waiting for her lover with a screaming feedback roll and euphoric harmonies going on in the background. Never mind the acts who wouldn’t, focus on this act who do.

Album tracks like ‘Taut‘ and ‘Your Words‘ show that it’s not all about the singles either, though they could have been. Some of the tracks to do the rounds ahead of this album have certainly whetted the aural appetites of listeners. ‘Happier Still‘ tackles dealing with depression, while ‘Confident Man‘ is an awesome song that looks at con men and scam culture, and deservedly tears it down.

There’s no wasted time on this record, even if the reality is that you may gel with certain tracks before others (don’t press the forward button, simply keep listening). However. it must be said that Big Joanie save the best for last on this record. The album closer ‘Sainted’ is dark, electronic-infused track that is as much for the dance floor as it is a soundtrack for a dark night of the soul (though I suppose the two are not mutually exclusive). It may not be a album that grabs you from the start, but repeated listeners have shown this writer exactly why he fell for them with their debut. I think this is actually the stronger of the two albums. It’s on my Christmas list.

They cut their teeth on the London DIY scene, and they’re deserving of reaching a huge audience now. It is not a stretch of the imagination to envisage huge crowds singing along. Their time is now.

Big Joanie - Back Home (Daydream Library Series)

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.