Joseph Arthur’s 10th studio album was originally available via Pledgemusic, and will be released more widely via Lonely Astronaut Records on June 11 2013.
Album opener Currency of Love is a 50’s sounding track, that would not sound out of place in a David Lynch movie or as a song on a long-lost Roy Orbison album.
Saint of Impossible Causes has an incredibly addictive and uplifting chorus, and a move forward to the 1960’s with the sitars on the verses.
The title track is very New York sounding, complete with Lou Reed Transformer referencing backing vocals and is an essay on a modern-day messiah.
“Christ would love hip-hop, metal and soul”
What is noticeable on this album is the more expansive backing than recent Arthur releases – lush strings, horn sections and a real widescreen production are very much the order of the day. The album’s first ballad I Used to Know How To Walk on Water is an album highlight, with a vibrant, deep bassline and jazzy piano and drums.
Wait for Your Lights is simply classic Joseph Arthur. A tight, simple beat and descending piano lines, Wait for your Lights is an instant favourite and one of the best tracks on the album.
I Miss the Zoo is a more fully-realised take of the track that appeared on 2012’s Redemption City. An brutally honest tale of missing the high’s of a former lifestyle, to quote the lyrics “Even tho life is much better now”. A simple backing of heavily pounded acoustic guitar, bass, piano and organ let the powerful lyrics and increasingly impassioned vocal tell the story.
“I miss salvation in syringes and angels of mercy, in blooms of smoke numbing rain”
It’s OK to Be Young / Gone would not have sounded out-of-place on my favourite Joseph Arthur album, Our Shadows Will Remain. Some lovely Frippesque guitar textures layer this song.
Still Life Honey Rose has a scent of the desert, and a real late 70’s Fleetwood Mac vibe. It’s one of my favourite songs on the album.
Black Flowers is the shortest song in the collection, and zips along at a furious pace, with some crazy percussion under-pinning the one-line chorus, and what sounds like Herb Alpert smuggling his Tijuana Brass into the studio towards the end of the song
King of Cleveland reminds me a little of the mood of Arcade Fire‘s The Suburbs album – an America long-gone, and the song seems to point to a personal history in Ohio that is also consigned to memory.
“And she cut you”
Album closer All the Old Heroes is the longest track on the album, clocking in at just over 7 minutes, and appears to be another of the albums songs about escaping addiction.
“All the old heroes are like children to me now.
As I come to burn your shame away, without knowing exactly how.”
The Ballad of Boogie Christ was apparently put together over a period of 10 years, in between other album releases and with a mixture of old and new songs recorded with a wide cast of musicians in a variety of studios across America. Yet surprisingly for such a potentially haphazard collection of songs and styles, the album comes across as Arthur’s most focused and coherent release to date, and it may well be the album that finally leads to greater recognition beyond his existing audience.
The Ballad of Boogie Christ
Currency of Love
Saint of Impossible Causes
The Ballad of Boogie Christ
I Used to Know How To Walk on Water
Wait for Your Lights
I Miss the Zoo
It’s OK to Be Young / Gone
Still Life Honey Rose
King of Cleveland
Famous Friends along the Coast
All the Old Heroes
Buy Joseph Arthur albums from Amazon UK
Visit the Joseph Arthur website.