Following the release of his first-ever song “Bad Night” at the tail end of 2018, Joshua Speers is back with his most poignant songwriting yet with the track cleverly titled “Happy Birthday You’re Alone.” The song’s title hits hard and Speers shares some insight into its origins, saying: “I wrote this song after she dumped me on her birthday. All my insecurities about her leaving me for someone else came rushing in and I desperately wanted to say something hurtful in parting. All I could get out was ‘Happy birthday. You’re alone.’” Watch here
For Joshua Speers, “home” is an elusive concept. The middle of three sons of two teachers, Speers spent his younger years traversing the Northeast — from his father’s house in Delaware, mother’s home in Philadelphia, and grandparents’ places in New Hampshire and Vermont. Those long road trips led Speers to find a sense of home in the car, to seek comfort in the sprawling highways of the Northeast, his travels soundtracked by AM radio broadcasts of baseball games.
The nomadic nature of Speers’ early years carried over to his adult life. He’s held jobs as an Uber driver, a writer, potter, waiter, and auction assistant — but never sought out to become a musician, despite finding himself in bands throughout college and most recently as a sideman for Caroline Rose. Rather, he turned to music as a way to feel understood. As the only musical family member, he often felt distant from his siblings, who were all but uninterested in music. Ironically, Speers found a way to reach his family through writing pop. The universality of the genre allowed him to express himself in ways that resonated with his family, but remained true to his identity.
His abilities to clearly express complex ideas through music and to find the delightful aspects of life’s mundane experiences permeate his songwriting style. He deftly combines bright, sparkling pop elements with melancholic undertones, blending emotional weight with memorable hooks and melodies. His approach to songwriting is informed by the essayist Joan Didion’s writing goal: to incorporate honesty in her work, to describe “how it felt to be me.” Translated to a musical context, this honesty results in songs listeners will hold close to their hearts.