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At Work: Joseph

Emily Zemler | October 06, 2016

These days, it almost feels like a gimmick to start a band with your siblings, but a family act was truly the best vehicle for the Closner sisters’ personal brand of organic folk-pop. Natalie, Meegan and Allison formed Joseph, named for their grandfather Jo and his hometown of Joseph, Ore., after realizing that they shared a common musical ground. The musicians had grown up listening to jazz and country, which taught them how to sing harmonies, and their collaborative sensibility is apparent on the group’s charming new album, I’m Alone, No You’re Not.

“A shared history impacts the sound and lyrics we create,” Meegan says of the album, which was produced by Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes, Jenny Lewis). “We have very similar tastes in music and have a rich, similar history with different angles in which to pull from. If you’re able to work through family roles, can learn to have grace while everyone grows and not expect each other to be who they’ve always been, it’s an incredibly beautiful and rewarding experience.”

The band, who recently performed at Bonnaroo and Glastonbury and will tour with James Bay this fall, wanted to convey sincerity in the album’s lyrics, a feeling that is evident in the shimmering, folk-tinged indie-rock numbers. “If we can be honest with ourselves and what we are feeling and experiencing,” Meegan notes, “likely someone else will be able to say: ‘Me too.’

“Our record deals with themes we’ve referred to as ‘the day cycle,’” she adds. “It deals with the hope of a new day, the questions in the middle of all of it, the fear during the nighttime, and the competing doubt and uncertainty whether a new day will come.” Musically, the Closner sisters accepted a lot of guidance from Mogis, whose credits encouraged them to enlist him as the producer of I’m Alone, No You’re Not. 

“Initially, we loved his work, but what sealed the deal was his enthusiasm for working on our project. We wanted to work with someone who was going to have an equal amount of excitement and heart for the project as we did. Mike had that. We brought him individual songs that were sung with three vocals and a guitar, and he turned them into a full, cinematic, dynamic record.” 

Those songs continue to evolve in the band’s live set, but the shared voices of the three sisters remain at the heart of everything Joseph does. “The live shows are about the magic of connectedness between you saying a truth and the chance that someone else at the show might feel less alone in theirs.”