Reviewed by David Lynch, Fri., Feb. 14, 2003
Joseph ArthurRedemption's Son (Enjoy/Real World) If Joseph Arthur ever decided to contract his name, "Joe Art" would work just fine, because this Ohio-born, NYC resident is a true artist. His paintings are stark and powerful and helped him earn a Grammy nod for album artwork previously. With sound, Arthur paints with both broad and subtle brushstrokes, and his lyrics can stand free as poetry. Having contributed to several compilations, and released EPs and two LPs under his own name, Arthur has earned binders of critical and artistic praise. His latest, Redemption's Son, may be his best. Culled from over 75 songs, the 16 tracks here are all gold, and it's not hard to find overlap with other acts. "Evidence" could be from Elvis Costello's looped beat set list, "Nation of Slaves" is the fruit of a hypothetical Bowie-Tool recording session, and "In the Night" could be a lost gem from a Lennon-McCartney fin-de-siècle songbook. These overlaps don't mean that Arthur mimics, but rather that these artists should cover Arthur's compositions, for he is quite simply a stunning songwriter and aural watercolorist. "Innocent World" is beatific, but be ready to turn up the volume, because you'll want to get closer to the expression. While the sounds and words used by Joseph Arthur are wholly singular, his songs about loss and redemption are universal.