Cat No

Daily Express 5***** "a gorgeous retro-styled affair...captivating"
Record Collector 4/5, Hi-fi Choice 9/10, Long Live Vinyl 8/10, Mojo 4**** "Been Around has heart, soul, a voice and tunes to die for"
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Joyner, Simon
Pocket Moon

B B * Island
1 Nov 19

"Singer-songwriter" is a frustratingly confining term; to truly understand exactly just how confining, look no further than the recorded works of Simon Joyner, an artist whose work consistently transcends the narrow parameters of genre classifications and record shop bin cards. Though his music has always honoured, reckoned with-wrestled with-the tradition set forth by his songwriting forebears (Cohen, Van Zandt, Ochs, Dylan, Reed to name a few), Joyner can always be counted on to defy expectations; as a lyricist, melodicist, and arranger, Joyner likes to keep us on our toes. For his new album Pocket Moon, Joyner opted to engage in a risky artistic challenge. Instead of leaning on his fertile pool of Omaha musicians (the amorphous Ghosts band), he asked friend and frequent collaborator Michael Krassner to assemble unknown players on his behalf specifically for this recording. Simultaneously sparser and more immediate than 2017's obliquely topical Step Into The Earthquake, Pocket Moon is instantly one of Joyner's finest albums since his redoubtable 2012 double album masterpiece, Ghosts. Utilizing a wide range of instruments and textures, the band contributes additional nuance to each of the ragged, sublime songs here. Throughout, Krassner emerges as the Lee Underwood to Joyner's Tim Buckley: a sympathetic foil and musical empath. The result is another song cycle stylistically unified, dynamic and rich. Of course, there are also the lyrics. As a wordsmith Joyner belongs to a very exclusive group of living songwriters whose written lyrics on the page seem to suggest their own distinct, internal music. Pocket Moon continues Joyner's habit of "naming names." Pocket Moon contains songs that explicitly mention Joyner's friends, family members, bandmates, and even neighbours. Habitual lyric sheet perusers will also note that Joyner is well acquainted with the mechanics of poetic form: the marvelous "Blue Eyed Boy" is written in something of an irregular pantoum; elsewhere, Joyner gracefully deploys personification, metaphor, and reification like some cornhusking John Ashbery: stars twinkle out of nervousness and cicadas mimic the radiator; coyotes throw confetti. Joyner-never one to resort to trite whiskey confessions or inscrutable word salad-tempers his spiritual, philosophical, and existential observations with a stand-up comic's sensitivity to some of the smaller, less noticed things. Imagine the raw humanity of Tim Hardin or the deathless wisdom of Leonard Cohen rendered via the consolatory ramble of a drug buddy's "hey, didja ever notice…" Pocket Moon finds Joyner's myriad powers undiminished, his legacy assured, his muse dogged and insatiable, his writing sharper than ever. As his narrator reminds us in the devastating song "Tongue of a Child," "...everything looks clean when you stand back so far, a swallowtail shredding its wings against the sides of this jar." This is music as mindfulness: Joyner is unwilling to simply report the sweeping gestures but instead observes the violence, beauty, and absurdity of everyday life up close and dares you to join him in laughing at it, ruminating on it, or running from it screaming. Available on black vinyl and limited edition (350 worldwide) on translucent white marbled vinyl.
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