Joshua Hyslop shares stories, not just through music

Alexis Stockford, Contributor Ω

Folk singer Joshua Hyslop poses after his performance in TRU's Alumni Theatre on Nov. 14. Alexis Stockford/The Omega

Folk singer Joshua Hyslop poses after his performance in TRU’s Alumni Theatre on Nov. 14. Alexis Stockford/The Omega

About 100 people were in attendance to hear singer-songwriter Joshua Hyslop perform at the Alumni Theatre in the early afternoon on Nov. 14, 2013 as part of the ‘Live at TRU!’ series. Not only did his music entertain, but his stories gave the audience something to connect to.

From the relatively upbeat “If I Was a Better Man” to the soulful, introspective lyrics of “Nowhere Left to Go,” Hyslop impressed his audience with a mix of songs from his first album, Cold Wind, as well as his newer release, Where the Mountain Meets the Valley.

Hyslop’s music is self-admittedly influenced by the work of artists like Damien Rice and Simon and Garfunkel, focusing on smooth, easy listening and flowing harmonies. Although he usually performs with a back-up band, his performance at TRU was purely acoustic, just Hyslop and his guitar.

“When you strip it all down and you do just the acoustic version of the song… if you can still hold people’s attention, then to me it’s a really good song,” Hyslop said.

While there was no cheering or whooping like you might see at a rock concert, there was rapt attention and wholehearted applause after every selection.

“I love the guitar,” said audience member Ovi Hahyan after the show. “He has a very good voice.”

All of Hyslop’s lyrics are profoundly personal. His first song “Do not Let Me Go” tells the story of his own near-death experience while travelling in India. Backed with beautiful guitar work, Hyslop’s music creates a sense of intimacy with the audience.

“It can just touch you,” said fourth-year student Aylenna Holland. “There were parts where I was almost crying.”

“I think what makes it worthwhile is being able to connect with people on a very deep and personal level, and also being aware that I’m very privileged and honoured to get to do what I do,” Hyslop said.

He claims to be shy in front of crowds, but he had his audience laughing more than once. Relating how he embarrassed himself in front of strangers when he first heard himself on the radio, or dedicating a song to his girlfriend only to realize half-way through that it was a song about divorce, his stories were almost as entertaining as the songs themselves.

Hyslop expects to play another 25 shows in the next few weeks, and will start work on his third album after Christmas, hoping to release it sometime next year.