Album Review: Joey Collins - 'Requiem'

A strikingly original artist in the modern era of over-produced, zealous pop, Collins’ sophomore record possesses an emotional and lyrical dexterity to satisfy tortured souls and hopeful romantics alike.


It takes a special talent to sound so hauntingly original in an industry invaded by aspiring singer-songwriters and acoustic guitars, yet Joey Collins has managed to pull it off in abundance on his second record Requiem, with darkened lyrical themes touching on death, addiction and mental health in a way that has listeners recoiling as if they experienced his pain first hand. Acting as a timeframe from the start of 2018 to now, the young artist has managed to inject the modern issues surrounding mental health and addiction into a sophomore record tightly wound around the 90s Seattle grunge movement.


The ambient and alluring The Time In Between The Seconds is a woozy, escapist instrumental to introduce the record. Off-kilter blues-based guitar twangs spin in distorted disarray, reaping in solace as the strings of anticipation become taut with tension. From just the opening instrumental, it becomes apparent just how much of a natural turn Collins has taken in comparison to his debut LP Take Your Pain & Turn It Into Art.

"In Collins, there lies a ray of hope for the future, a theme that permeates his sophomore record, curing through the tales of personal hardships in order to restore positivity and anticipation for the years to come."

Collins’ soft growl caresses Time Becomes Our Only Saviour with a hushed poignance, hanging in a cloud of remembrance, whilst grunge influences take over the singer-songwriters rasping lyrical delivery. Before the release of the record, Collins stated that he wanted Requiem to be more of a snapshot of the time at that very second, a concept record made over a period in which the singer was struggling at his worst, and he manages to do that with success in abundance, offering a generational concept album detailing the complete loss of oneself all the way to recovery.


Across the record, mental health narratives are weaved intricately into the textured fabric of each track, offering a pessimistic outlook similar to his first record but developing his stance to include flourishes of positivity, sonic and lyrical progression which paint a vivid canvas of the artist’s state of mind from beginning to end. ‘I don’t feel so good in this world / I don’t feel the same as I used to when I was just a kid’ notes Collins on Sober, spiralling down a darkened staircase of mental ill-health, addiction and childhood innocence. Whilst the open admission of mental struggles might surprise some listeners, the catharsis of experience and pains onto a track only goes to further Collins’ status as a songwriter and champion of insecurity. Instrumentally, the single highlights the prowess of Collins’ guitar ability, whilst lyrically he offers an admission of hope towards its finale.

"On Requiem, Collins is seemingly managing himself in a healthier way as to before, opening his heart and mind on the record like a secret diary."

Sleep manages to catch a rawness of emotion and purity of sentiment at the back of the songwriter’s husked vocals, line ‘I can’t sleep, dreams are haunting me’ demonstrating a fragility in the most relaxed moments of solitude. Its chorus falls upon the track with the help of jangled guitar and stark lyrical honesty but altogether the track is extraordinarily beautiful, its nonchalant acoustic nature providing an idyllic slate for glistening piano and embellishments of strings transporting the track into a dreamlike dimension. Once again, whilst the track allows its listener to stare over the parapet into Collins’ mind, there’s a glowing message of defiance and optimism amidst the emotional trauma in lines ‘There’s a sickness growing inside of me, inside of me / I’m not gonna let it get the better of me, better of me / There’s a way to fight it, starting with positivity.


A notable influence on the second record was Collins’ grandmother, a figure who passed away during the time of writing, and a woman who the singer-songwriter addresses in the title track. Requiem is a poignant reflection on the changing of times and environments, lyrics ‘If I can leave this world behind a little less broken, that’ll do for me’ reverberating a Thom Yorke vocal quality before filtering into hidden track Falling which brings the record to its breathy conclusion. Whilst it details losing a loved one, the track acts as a celebration of the life of the people lost along the way, referring partly to anxiety but delivered in a manner of ease that could only come with first-hand experience of such issues.

Image courtesy of Joey Collins

Despite the darkened themes throughout Requiem, there are moments of surprising brilliance away from the core narrative of the record. A true highlight, Like A Fool’s intelligence lies in the decision to strip back on guitar and percussion, allowing vocals and staccatoed piano to come to the forefront of the music, waves of emotion building up before a tsunami of lovestruck tears and indecision hits its audience and leaves them reeling for air. Collins’ vocals leer over the track in emphatic fashion, dampened and dark yet emotionally menacing, whilst lyrically the track is so vivid that it has images forming and dissipating at the blink of an eye.

"The young artist has managed to inject the modern issues surrounding mental health and addiction into a sophomore record tightly wound around the 90s Seattle grunge movement."

The gentle strum of instrumental Bushido casts a soothing lullaby across the record, pausing for breath before allowing the album to move to weightier lands, whilst Anaemea Interlude is virtuous and unpredictable; flickering and dancing with a spirited torment. A sporadic trip into a warped world forging piece by piece before the audience’s eyes, the left-field offering is intensely unpredictable and offers suggestions as to where the artist could go in the future. On Requiem, Collins is seemingly managing himself in a healthier way as to before, opening his heart and mind on the record like a secret diary.


Joey Collins is part of a rare breed of artist, integrally independent and resolutely defiant. His blend of authenticity and startling honesty is in such desire right now, yet the songwriters that provide it are facing a crisis of extinction. However, in Collins, there lies a ray of hope for the future, a theme that permeates his sophomore record, curing through the tales of personal hardships in order to restore positivity and anticipation for the years to come.

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