The melancholy of plodding pianos may be the immediate takeaway from Joshua Thomas’ brand new single, “Numb,” but it’s his velvety tenor vocal that ultimately drives the song. The track―the first of three that the Portland (by way of Philadelphia) artist is releasing in the coming months―ventures into a hazy gloominess with sparse key work and gorgeous string accompaniment courtesy of Amanda Lawrence (She & Him, M. Ward) on viola, Jessie Dettwiler (Alameda, Lenore.) on cello, and Sid Ditson on violin.
As the song unfurls from an already despondent verse, Thomas switches gears to a falsetto chorus that moans under the woebegone line, “Even though my heart is bleeding out/Still you say you're sure enough.”
In conjunction with the release of the first single, Thomas is also releasing a series of live, in-studio videos filmed at Color Therapy in Northeast Portland by local filmmaker Nik Popp, the first of which you can also see here for the first time. As you can see from the video’s simple approach, Thomas has a knack for conjuring the kind of sad-eyed balladeering of artists like Rufus Wainwright, Anohni, John Grant and even fellow Portlanders like Matt Dorrien. This is late-night, brooding, powerful stuff.