REVIEW : The Family - Goldenplec.com

by Danny Kilmartin

In 2013, prior to the release of his album ‘Ballad of Boogie Christ’, Joseph Arthur bought a 1912 Steinway Vertegrand piano for his Brooklyn based studio, Red Hook. The piano had been owned by a single family. On this piano, Arthur composed, recorded and leant a voice to a baker’s dozen of songs which intertwine and overlap to tell a tale of his very own, with Grammy Award winning engineer Tchad Blake (The Black Keys, U2) handling mixing duties.

Stylistically, sonically, and emotionally; ‘The Family’ is difficult, intricate and borders on the eclectic and obscure. Each track tells the tale of a different member of Arthur’s extended family; some fictional and others real.

Thematically, Arthur sings of loss, disruption, reconciliation, abandonment, despair, disdain, agitation and love, always underpinned with a strong sense of intrigue. Ethel Was Born tells the tale of a child born on the day the Titanic sank and a father’s suicide, while When I Look at You and You Keep Hanging On are simplistic, melodic pop numbers.

They Call Him Lightning sees raw, bluesy guitars and elegant pianos laid thick over a ramshackle drum loop to set in place the story of a WWII veteran. You Wear Me Out sees an addict nagged by her long-suffering husband about their children over a backdrop of reverberated guitars and verbose keys.

Meanwhile, the synth-laden Hold on Jerry juxtaposes a heart-wrenching chorus (‘this love is complicated/this death is overrated’) over what may be the album’s hookiest arrangement.

As tumultuous as the album’s sequencing and flow may be, it serves a purpose and Arthur’s attention to sonic and emotional detail is paid meticulously here; and is well complimented by his impassioned, soulful vocal of impressive range.

‘The Family’ does not aim to make a magnificent statement, but rather a personal one. Though gloomy at its core, it is no less poignant for it; gentle despite its bite. It’s effective as what it is; a labour of love, and a tribute to the family that may or may not have birthed it.


INTERVIEW : 2016-08-27 Rock musicians show another side at Great Park art show (by Antoine Boessenkool)

Arthur’s paintings are portraits, but in the vein of Picasso. They’re colorful and electric, as rhythm is, Arthur said. They’re almost alien-like, with splatters of paint, looping lines and out-of-proportion features.

Arthur describes them as ideas bubbling up from the subconscious.

“I wouldn’t want to sort of tack on a meaning to them or limit them,” he said. “They’re meant to be read through your perception and your interpretation."

“I love art that encourages you to follow your creativity, even if you don’t know what you’re doing.” Rock ’n’ roll is a bit like that too, he said. “You always have to have some ‘I don’t know what I’m doing’ in it.”

You can read the complete article here.


2004-12-11 - Fingerprints, Long Beach

Instore with Joan Wasser on violin and vocals

Setlist :

moon in the skull
a smile that explodes
someone to love
echo park
secret ghost
even tho
can't exist
good about me
i donated myself to the mexican army
all of our hands
had to go

CONCERT POSTER : 2011-03-31 Hidden Agenda Live House, Hong Kong


REVIEW : Fistful Of Mercy's As I Call You Down - Relix.com

by Tim Donnely

When solo musicians come together and form a group for the sake of art and not commerce, the result kept can often be silenced due to contractual obligations of the participating artists. However, when it’s good art, nothing can hold it back, as is the case with As I Call You Down, the eponymous debut from Fistful of Mercy. 

The mellowest power trio besides CSN, the band consists of Ben Harper, Joseph Arthur and Dhani Harrison, who are all gentle souls known for their tender vocals. 
Recorded in one weekend in Los Angeles around last year’s Grammy Awards, the release doesn’t come off as a piecemeal offering featuring three different voices. 
Rather, it is focused, vibrant and most of all, a team orientated endeavor, as evidenced on the blues burner “Father’s Son” infectious psychedelic pop of “Things Go Round” featuring Harper on bass, Arthur on percussion and Harrison on keys. 

However, it’s the warm, lush, and seemingly effortless harmonies throughout the record, specifically on the title track and the closing beauty “With Whom You Belong” that make an obvious case that these cats belong together.


REVIEW : Fistful Of Mercy's As I Call You Down - The Hurst Review

The first album from Fistful of Mercy is a laid-back, low-key, unpretentious treat– a most welcome development from a group that surely deserves to be called “super.” I give much of the credit for the music’s modesty and simple charms to Dhani Harrison; when your dad was one of the Beatles, keeping things relatively small-scale is probably the only way you’re ever going to get anywhere on your own, and everything I’ve heard and seen of the man has indicated a contentment with focusing on small gifts and the charms of straightforward, heartfelt musicianship. Harrison is joined in this trio by singer/songwriter Joseph Arthur and rock and roller Ben Harper, men who have, at various points in their substantial careers, engaged in musical conceits much broader and more grandiose than anything present on As I Call You Down; that they’re willing to work in such brotherly harmony together, producing something that surpasses any suggestions of ego or overreach in favor of more minor but lasting pleasures, is ultimately what makes Fistful of Mercy work– not because it’s a supergroup, but because the music here is simply very appealing.

The modesty of this nine-song record is evident from the outset: “In Vain or True” begins with folksy acoustic guitar strumming that quickly develops into a lovely Beatles-esque melody and warm three-part harmony. (I’m sorry to make the Beatles comparison, for Harrison’s sake, but it really is the most fitting analogy.) Herein reside the three basic gifts of this handsome little album– that is, melody, harmony, and, most impressively, a sense of genuine warmth that is hard to reproduce on record without sounding somewhat artificial, which it never does here, perhaps for reasons as simple as the fact that these three men actually enjoy each others’ company and captured the amiable spirit of their recording sessions with clarity and a lack of unnecessary fuss. And indeed, this is music that flows very organically, everything orbiting fairly close to the central fascinations with melody and vocal interplay but diverting into some lovely colors along the way, be it the soulful violin that appears at the end of that first song, the elegant piano and organ overtones that splash across “I Don’t Want to Waste Your Time,” or the bluesy slide guitar accents that Harper provides throughout the record.

The music is so comfortable in its gentle demeanor and amiable harmonies that the risk it runs is in growing too sleepy, something it does here and there, but mostly avoids thanks mainly to its brevity and focus. A bigger concern, I think, is that the music here is simply so modest that it’s easy to overlook, especially since the initial impression one gets is of the overall mood, the little details here and there, rather than of the songs themselves, which take a listen or two to begin to sink in. But there are some real pleasures here, enough to make immersion in the record a worthwhile pursuit. I’d point to four songs of special note, two because they highlight what this group captures so nicely and two because they suggest ways for the group to move forward on any future meetings. In the former camp I point to the song “Fistful of Mercy,” which doesn’t offer any deviations from the album’s basic template so much as it illuminates everything that’s so winsome about it, the three-way harmony vocal moving into positively heavenly territory and a mournful violin suggesting a certain romance, a fascination with simple, unfettered beauty. There’s also a fine instrumental number called “30 Bones”– contemplative, slightly on the bluesy tip– that suggests how deep the trio’s chemistry goes, even when the vocal harmonies are taken out of the equation.

On the other side of things there’s “Things Go Round,” a playful, almost theatrical number– again, with nods to the Beatles– that begins with staccato piano before eventually coming back to the swirl of voices and violin that characterizes much of the rest of this music. It’s a good showcase for the three different voices here, each of the singers taking a turn at the lead, but it’s also evidence of how this band’s music could be fleshed out without sounding too much like a departure. The real standout, though– and, admittedly, the most uncharacteristic song on the whole album– is “Father’s Son,” a bluesy, gospel-flavored hoe-down with hand-clap percussion from Jim Keltner and Harper’s slide guitar licks surrounding the driving guitar work from Arthur and Harrison. The arrangement is energetic in a way that much of the album isn’t, and the lyric toys with blues and country music idioms cleverly in its tale of sonship, inherited sin, and perhaps redemption. I’d be on board with an entire album of stuff like this; for now, though, Fistful of Mercy delivers a lovely record that is, despite its smallness of stature, rich with beauty and reward.

REVIEW : Fistful Of Mercy's As I Call You Down - L.A Times

Album review: Fistful of Mercy's 'As I Call You Down'
OCTOBER 5, 2010 | 6:46 PM

For a certain kind of guy who always seems to be swinging in a hammock somewhere, one bellbottomed leg kicked over the side, the harmonies of Crosby, Stills and Nash are sacrosanct, sometimes to the point of creative claustrophobia.

On Fistful of Mercy's debut, “As I Call You Down,” that isn't the case. Singer-songwriters Dhani Harrison, Ben Harper and Joseph Arthur are all confident enough to add their own wintry and sometimes endearingly gawky take on the Laurel Canyon formula. And, for the record, a photo in the liner notes shows them all wearing skinny jeans — the times have changed.

Most of the tracks on “As I Call You Down” seem made for dewy, slow-to-rise mornings, with lines of steel guitar and the kind of slightly cockeyed melodies that keep the listener poised for surprise. Sometimes a rambunctious mood sets in, as on country-blues stomper “Father's Son.” At other times, the threesome tucks in for meditation: “30 Bones,” the only instrumental track, is a gorgeous, feathery construction.

As pleasing as the melodies and execution are, it's hard to tell if the album has real sticking power — or if it merely passes through the system, appreciated but ultimately forgettable. Only time and more records will tell.

—Margaret Wappler

Fistful of Mercy
“As I Call You Down”
Hot Records
Three stars (Out of four)

REVIEW : Fistful Of Mercy's As I Call You Down - NZHerald.co.nz

By Graham Reid

Rating: 1/5

Verdict: If cream rises, this sinks like a lead samosa.

Further proof - if required - that something less than a supergroup can deliver something considerably less than super.

And this group - Ben Harper, the far-too-prolific singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur and Dhani (son of George) Harrison - come up so far short on every front that their folksy I Don't Want to Waste Your Time ("but I will, yes I will") could only be acceptable if it were delivered by Flight of the Conchords.

It's rubbish.

Unless it's a parody, which - regrettably - it isn't.Lyrics aren't their strong suit ("you love like I love, you love like I do, you wish what I wish ...", etc) and their template is the low end of Crosby, Stills and Nash - but with none of the cultural significance CSN enjoyed. FoM seem dislocated from their time, any guiding intelligence and a decent, memorable song.

Oh, aside from Father's Son (and yes, Dhani does sound like that) which has the sole virtue of rousing them from their self-satisfied Travelling Wilburys/CSN sleepwalk - although you can hardy hail a lyric that includes such blues cliches as "my father he done told me" and "my woman she done left me".

Rubbish Part II.

Further proof - if required - that it's far too easy to record an album these days.

Three days, apparently. Time wasted.

-TimeOut / elsewhere.co.nz

REVIEW : Nuclear Daydream - Indie Rock Mag

Joseph Arthur - Nuclear Daydream

Après la demi-déception de Our Shadows Will Remain The Same, Joseph Arthur nous sort le grand jeu avec un album où le classicisme folk le dispute à l’excellence.

Le début de discographie de Joseph Arthur est comme un rêve, l’enchainement de trois albums, de Big City Secrets au gargantuesque Redemption’s Son , sans oublier la série de quatre eps Junkyard Hearts , qui révélaient un des grands talents du songwriting américain underground, entre électricité crue et acoustique rêche. Le temps de Our Shadows Will Remain , on l’avait un peu perdu dans une production de nouveau riche maladroitement associée à son univers si personnel et oppressant.

Alors, plus qu’un retour aux sources, Nuclear Daydream marque une nouvelle étape de la carrière et de la vie de Joseph Arthur, si l’on se fie à l’atmosphère musicale beaucoup plus sereine qui se dégage de ce nouvel opus. Abandon total des soubresauts électriques qui parsemaient les précédents albums, présence réduite des boites à rythme et du vocoder,Joseph Arthur épure son propos et se pose en digne représentant d’un certain classicisme folk. Pour preuve, le splendide Black Lexus, qui après Mercedes sur Big City secrets , démontre à quel point les berlines de luxe l’inspirent ! Blague à part, Joseph Arthur dévoile, particulièrement dans ce titre et de manière plus générale, un talent de conteur consacré à des récits d’échecs sentimentaux ou de laissés-pour-compte du rêve américain.

Le choix du tout-acoustique pouvait laisser craindre une certaine uniformité de ton mais le bonhomme évite brillamment cet écueil en alternant titres enlevés (Too much to hide, Slide away), colère froide (When I was running out of time), ou complaintes atmosphériques (le "Midlakien" Automatic situation et ses nappes de synthés flottants ou l’apaisé Electrical storm qui, contrairement à ce que son titre promet, déroule le plus tranquillement du monde ses délicats arpèges...). Et comment ignorer la voix de Joseph Arthur ? Déjà remarquable et habitée sur ses précédents albums mais trop souvent dissimulée derrière les effets, elle livre ici des trésors de sensibilité, qu’elle grimpe dans les aigus (le très amoureux Woman) ou qu’elle évolue paisiblement au fil du somptueux Nuclear Daydream, chanson-titre comparée, à raison me semble-t-il, au Wild Horses des Stones, ne serait-ce que pour la douce lumière qui s’en échappe et qui enveloppe l’auditeur, charmé du début à la fin de cet album magistral.

Chroniques - 24.09.2006 par masto



Click on a title to see the tab :

With Your Life 
They Called Him Lightning 
When I Look At You 
Ethel Was Born 
Hold On Jerry 
Daddy, The War Machine

TAB : You Wear Me Out

Kindly tabbed by Loïc

F                 C
You're their mother
Em                Dm
Start being one
I'm their father
But I can't hold it down alone
You should see them
When they ask for you
What should I tell them
Since I can't tell them the truth

F C Em Dm
F C Em Dm
You wear me out

G                     F             C
Time won't turn around
Time won't turn around
Time won't turn around
Time won't turn around
         Dm                          F
For you

Outro: Am F

TAB : Wishing Well

Kindly tabbed by Loïc

D                     F            C
On a long-distance sunday
We could go to the mall
Look around but still don't buy much
Can't afford a place to fall

G               F
Oh, the wishing well
Am                  G
Throw your coins in there
Tell them what you want
Oh, the wishing well

Intermedes : G F Am G

I know you will
Find your way
                                        F            C
You know you've got to hold on
                   F                      C                                    
You always got to hold on


TAB : The Family

Kindly tabbed by Loïc

G                      C
Sister Susan, by the time she was four
G                  D                                 C
She could climb up just about any tree
From the highway you could see our house
She would look out as the cars drove past

                F                   C                           G
And the family was always glad you came
Said the family was always glad you came

Am                                       C
We may never pass this way again
But I'll never let you down, no
I'll always let you in
I'll never let you down, no
I'll always let you in

TAB : You Keep Hanging On

Kindly tabbed by Loïc

D                                             Cadd9
I love you more than my pain
Says I should
I love you more when you're rain
Than the desert would

G                            D
         (You keep hanging on)
Even when I tell you to go
(You keep hanging on)
Even when I ask you to leave
(You keep hanging on)
Even when I tell you to go
(You keep hanging on)

Even when I ask you to leave
C                              G
I see you on the other side
Am                                        D
Of your moon and your folded knife
And I wonder
                   G                    D
How you came into my life

I know sometimes you're cold inside
But I still want you to be mine
It makes me wonder
Why you came into my life

TAB : Machines Of War

Kindly tabbed by Loïc

Am                            Dm
Now I'm leaving to fly in a warplane
G                                     C 
Hitler's coming and he is a madman
Am                              Dm
I'll be back though so care for our children
G                                             C                          Am            Dm    G     C
Tell them Daddy has left to protect them now

Em                  Dm
Time is a jet away
  F(133211)                           C
Wish you would lock the door
See how our children play
We are machines of war
Love couldn't make me stay
I couldn't love you more
Just watch how our children play
We are machines of war

TAB : The Flag

Kindly tabbed by Loïc

Am    F               C
Though you're gone
Am    F               C
You're still here
Am    F               C
In Jimmy's eyes
And Linda's tears

C     G       F                         Dm
Today I think I've had enough

Without you here I'm not that strong

There's no on else I want to touch

Am         C        Am  C       Am
Cause I wish you were near
      C      Am   C      Am

I wish you were near


CONCERT POSTER : 2016-09-03 Buskerfest, Long Beach


INTERVIEW : 2008-11-02 Joseph Arthur: Nonstop Rock (by NPR)

Joseph Arthur has released four EPs and a full-length record, Temporary People, in 2008.Danny Clinch

In the mid-'90s, Joseph Arthur was an obscure singer-songwriter from Ohio when Peter Gabriel discovered him and invited him to participate in the "Big Blue Ball" sessions at Gabriel's personal studios in England.

Since launching his career with three records on Gabriel's label, Real World Records, and gaining a devoted fan base, Arthur has been incredibly prolific. In 2008 alone, he has released four EPs and one full-length record, Temporary People, on his own label.

Despite producing such a large volume of material, Arthur says he still finds time to sleep.

"I love to work," he says. "What I call my work, I would do even if it wasn't my work, so I think that's the key to it. I do just hang out a lot. I have a lot of down time, as well."

Describing his new record, Arthur says, "The album to me is about a journey, reaching toward the light through your spirit, trying to overcome your demons through your spirit."

Arthur has battled substance abuse, noting, "It's definitely something I've been dealing with for quite a long time, and it's something that I feel I'm on the good end of right now."

Music, and this record in particular, has helped him deal with his addiction.

"It's kind of a result of how prolific this year has been, is just through sobriety," he says. "I'm not one of these sober people that thinks drugs are bad, but I do know for me, in this point of my life, clarity is much more interesting and exciting to me."

On his 2008 EP Could We Survive, there's a political song with acoustic guitar and harmonica, told from the point of view of a soldier, called "Rages of Babylon."

"Writing politically is not a natural fit for me," Arthur says. "It's something I kind of have to force myself to do, and I just felt there was such a call for it."

Arthur says he read about the high divorce and suicide rates among veterans.

"That hit me," he says. "Particularly the divorce rate, what it would do to your relationship to be gone and how brutal that is. It's kind of from that point of view that I wrote the song."

Arthur is not just a prolific musician, he's also a painter.

"Painting for me is a darker expression than music," he says. "I see it as more of the midnight energy. Music to me is more like celebratory and light. Painting is solitary expression. You're removed from your audience when you paint."

Arthur says that while he loves all kinds of types of music, his doesn't have a definitive genre or style.

"I think it's interesting how people comment on the style of music over the substance," he says. "I think there is sometimes a lack of substance in music that has led people to be more focused on the style."

He cites Picasso, another artist who "explored all the different styles," as a hero.

"The style of music is like the outfit I'm wearing," he says. "I could be wearing this or I could be wearing jeans and a T-shirt."

He says his new listeners should start with Temporary People, adding, "It's a true record, in that it works as a record, it works as a body of work [and] it tells a story."

What is that story?

"Reaching into your soul to overcome your weaknesses and survive with hope." He adds, "With a rock 'n' roll soundtrack."


INTERVIEW : 2008-06-17 Joseph Arthur Is Damned, But Optimistic (by Chart Attack)

Musician and artist Joseph Arthur has become accustomed to seeing his work get dismissed as diluted and pretentious, simply because of the staggering efficiency with which he releases records.

He's also been labeled self-indulgent. And who could blame the press for doing so after he opened a gallery called The Museum of Modern Arthur to display his own paintings?

"I think you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't," Arthur surmises.

The New Yorker has released more than 10 discs of material since 2002, and he doesn't plan on slowing down. Arthur has already released three solo EPs this year (Could We Survive, Crazy Rain and Vagabond Skies), while Foreign Girls will follow on July 8.

As if that weren't enough for one year, September will see the release of Arthur's latest full-length, Temporary People, with his band The Lonely Astronauts (guitarist/keyboardist Kraig Jarret Johnson, guitarist Jennifer Turner, drummer Greg Wieczorek and bassist Sibyl Buck). Arthur agrees that he'll always be in danger of supersaturating the marketplace, but he insists that there's no other way to make music.

"I think people in the prime of their creative lives — the people I like the most — put out lots of music in short periods of time. And I think that's when some of the strongest work gets done. Let time sort it out. I think you have to strike while the iron's hot... It's better to get it out than to hold it back. Those are the chances you take.

"Look at The Beatles — their whole book was made in five years. Neil Young and Dylan used to put out two records a year… and that was just expected of you if you were an artist. Now if you do something similar, people tend to view it with raised eyebrows, like that means you're not editing yourself."

Arthur's musician's eye may be fixed on the past, but he certainly isn't the type to let the present pass him by. He sees the survival of the music industry in the internet, scattershot releases and digital distribution. That perspective prompted him to create Bag Is Hot, a blog of sorts that he's using to release music, poetry, photography and artwork for free at a sporadic and fluid pace.

"I usually break it down to what's the most interesting thing to do," says Arthur. "For instance, blogging poetry, or something like that. There's a certain vulnerability and risk in doing that. You have to ask yourself: 'Is it more interesting not to do that or to do that?' You break it down like that. And right now, I think it's more interesting to do it."


INTERVIEW : 2000-04 Joseph Arthur comes to town (theraft.com)

'This is me and this is me sitting in a room with a guitar crushing down onto my head. This is where I dream'

This is an unexpected start to the interview, Joseph Arthur holding up his guitar to camera and reeling off his first of many intriguing sound-bites. Still I am a professional and am not phased (yet !) I had recently been reading through Joseph's diary extracts from life on the road. He has been touring round the globe for some time now with the likes of Gomez and Ben Harper and chronicles his experiences in his on line tour diaries. Prolific and expressive they deserve publication in their own right.

I begin with a Paris extract - In Paris - It's easy to become.......

"Oh you're just going on about the bad ones !!!"

Are you going to publish any of the diary extracts.

"Well it is published on to the web which is great because we can publish and it so doesn't have to be good ! Even our shit - which is bad probably - I say fuck it - it's more fun to take a chance !"

I continue .... In Milan ; the audience are crowding like snakes and when the voodoo sticks are rubbed together nothing happens.....

"I was trying to describe different states of performance but there are some more positive one in there ! (Joseph reiterates for about the 3rd time.) They are probably just not as fun to read."

Correct, we English just love to love the negative side. I finally deliver the line that I have been trying to get to ; Do you find it hard putting on performance after performance ?

Usually no, it kicks ass !! But it happens. It's interesting to document what happens inside the performers head - when you do interviews typically you are not being real as it is so posed. In a way - I give more of myself - like interviewing myself."

So have you got to know any of your touring partners well ?

"We recorded a song with Gomez in Los Angeles called 'I Donated Myself to the Mexican Army' which came out really well."

The new album in entitled 'Welcome to Where I'm From' so it is only right that I should enquire into where Joseph is actually from !

"I used to live in London so it's strange walking round as you see a lot of ghosts. I had a life here. I'm from Ohio originally from but live in New York now."

So....."The album is like an invitation . I am experimenting with being open as opposed to experimenting with being closed which I did before - but that didn't work. I am trying to connect with people but that is very dangerous to do as people often resent it when you try and connect with them. Some people resent it - some people appreciate it. The people that do try and connect are usually very sensitive and so when they stumble upon the people that resent them trying to connect they sometimes get hurt. So it's dangerous to try and connect. But you only live once."

Well one thing is for sure - Joseph is fond of the word 'connect'. Maybe I'm on to something ?! Maybe it is time to turn the conversation around to philosophy. So what is your outlook Joseph ?

Nonplussed in the slightest he points to a hanging picture behind us : " Roses embalmed in gold pictures." Errrghhhh ? " I think that means I'm trying to value life. I'm just kidding !!....I'm trying to trap life into it's value.I believe in god. I don't think that he is particularly punishing. I do sacrifice lambs though !

OK right, so who do you look up to ?

"I don't have any heroes except for anybody ! I listen to a lot of Miles Davis, Nirvana, Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Beatles and I love Andy Warhol and De Kooning in terms of art."

Well that was reasonably straightforward. Music or art - one choice please ?

"I get obsessive about the music and the painting at different times. Music is more my wife and paintings are more my girlfriend on the side........... not that I condone that sort of behaviour.. I'm not suggesting that !"

Joseph Arthur was recently nominated for a Grammy for the packaging to his previous release. Did you enjoy the Grammies ?

"It's fun. I should have start writing the tour journal then. It was a gas. I didn't expect that we would win, to get nominated it was just sheer outrageous. I knew in my heart there was no chance we could win - well 95% sure... I didn't prepare a speech - it's daytime - no one really cares. It was late and we were dressed up as we were going to the parties afterwards any way. It was funny though as we found out after about 5 minutes that we had not won so we left as there was no other reason for us to really be there. And then we went to eat some Mexican food and went to the parties. It was an honour. I didn't really think of it until I saw the programme and then saw how much attention they had given it. It wasn't til after we had not won that I felt honoured by it."

What got you in to it in the first place ?

"Some way to redeem my life.....I was full of terminal self- hatred right from Kindergarten on. I just remember like being really heavy when I was really young I never was a kid. I was just really young but I was always an adult. I think I had a strange upbringing but I think that I am just a strange person with a strange upbringing but then I think everyone has a strange upbringing. They're all fucking nuts ! Mine was no exception to that rule but I think there was something a bit strange to begin with like with my mind - a bit unusual .."

Time was nearly up but I had to ask the seemingly obvious....Do you take drugs?

"I don't take drugs. I used to take drugs but then found out that they are really bad for you. Somebody said "Hey they are really bad for you" so I thought "Shit, I better stop taking them".

Finally after the most surreal but engaging 20 minutes I asked what he had got up his sleeve for the rest of the year ?

"I'm gonna go to New York and see if she'll go out with me (points to girl on magazine).... If my girlfriend sees this I'm just kidding !... I'm going out on the road forever...I've been on the road forever which is why I'm so scattered and weird.."

At the end Joseph asked if we could take out the bit that he had a strange mind. For someone that had been stranger than any one that I had ever spoken to I found that really endearing. Joseph Arthur composes music, poetry, sculpts and paints all with a depth that someone with just one of those skills would be willing to accept the artist's sufferance for. If that meant that Joseph Arthur is in turmoil I wouldn't like to say - using the foil of abstract comedy I was kept well away from his true persona. But you can draw your own conclusions from his notes from the road.


2003-02-01 - 400 Bar, Minneapolis

Tracklist :

Innocent world
Straw dogs
Bill Wilson
Evil will
I donated myself to the mexican army
You are the dark
In the sun
September baby
Favorite girl
Ashes everywhere
Honey and the moon
Devil's broom
The real you

If someone could send me a FLAC version, it will be great.

2003-02-01 MP3


REVIEW : The Family - Magnet Magazine

The press release for Joseph Arthur’s latest triumph opens with a quote from Anna Karenina where Leo Tolstoy notes the disparity of families, particularly the uniformity of happiness and the singularity of melancholy. That immutable reality forms the heart of Arthur’s heartrending emotional travelogue, from the weary loss of a military family on “The Flag” (“We used to say ‘In God We Trust,’ but I’m not sure anymore/Today I think I’ve had enough”) to the exhausted single father with the kids and a chemically dependent ex-wife on “You Wear Me Out” (“You should see them when they ask for you/What should I tell them since I can’t tell them the truth?”).

Although The Family isn’t autobiographical, Arthur used his own family tales as grist for his songwriting mill, finding and expanding the universal truths among his personal experiences. And like nearly every Arthur album over the past two decades, the hallmark of The Family is his impeccable facility for sonic atmosphere; crafting a soundtrack of keening violin, shimmering guitars, a quietly emotive rhythm section, Arthur’s plaintive vocal presence and a majestic Steinway combine in the musical translation of the love, joy, heartbreak and quiet resignation that grace and afflict every familial unit. Arthur understands the power of Robert Fripp’s harrowing soundscapes, Peter Gabriel’s quiet reflection and Brian Eno’s ambient intensity, and how to focus them all through his own lens to fashion his remarkably unique artistic vision. Just like one’s real family, Arthur’s Family will lift you up, tear you down, make you face your despair and allow you a glimmer of hope.

Brian Baker

REVIEW : The Family - MOJO Magazine