By Jess Mackie
VANCOUVER – Fresh off a European tour, singer-songwriter Joshua Hyslop is riding on a train from Amsterdam to Brussels, making the journey back to his home in Vancouver. He won’t be home long though. Hyslop’s newest album, Echos, which he released last month via Nettwerk Music Group, comes with an intense touring schedule and will draw him away for much of the rest of the year, leaving behind his wife and friends and the mountains that inspire his writing.
Since Hyslop gained recognition in 2012 with his debut, Where the Mountain Meets the Valley, Spotify has featured his songs on playlists like ‘Acoustic Chill’ and ‘Folk & Friends’ but he’d prefer to not classify his music.
“I don’t want to be pigeonholed as one very specific thing. ‘Singer-songwriter’ is already enough of a pigeonhole,” he says with a laugh.
Hyslop, like his music, is earnest and plainspoken. Who he is and what he does—“me and a guitar and I write songs”—conveys more than his skilful musicianship. It also extends to his outlook on life. With Echos, he hopes the album “encourages people to be more empathic and not just write people off.”
His appeal is in the way he presents himself. You can imagine he’s approachable at shows, a little self-deprecating, an eager listener just waiting to laugh or to share in some commonality.
Although he wrote the songs on Echos for people he’s known most of his life, he prefers to keep his music career private.
“I don’t really talk about how things are going with friends and family. I try to keep that part separate as much as possible.”
His warm, broken-in sound speaks for him. His considered lyrics exude sincerity and that, as much as his voice, has given Hyslop his following. People respond to that. It is to his credit that he doesn’t present himself as anything but hard working, talented and, he concedes, incredibly lucky.
“I’ve been very fortunate in that a lot of what I’ve put out has happened to resonate with people,” Hyslop says.
His humility is not contrived. But it does belie his talent. Despite being backed by a record label and adored by fans the world over, Hyslop still questions whether his success as a songwriter has been a fluke.
“I have no idea where [my songs] come from. Every time I finish one I always think it’s the last one I’ll ever write,” he says with a pause. “And then I hope I’m wrong.”
Echos is available now via apple music.