On this very website a few years back, Simon Joyner named “Visions of Johanna” as his favorite song. It makes sense. Joyner has a knack for lyrics that wed the (seemingly) mundane with the magical, the plainspoken with the poetic. The kinds of visions that keep you up past the dawn.
Not that Joyner is a Dylan wannabe – though a certain blue-eyed boy shows up on his latest masterpiece, Pocket Moon, still searching for shelter from the storm. The Lincoln, NE-based songwriter has developed his own toolkit over a long and varied career. And he’s still finding new ways to make use of his tools. Pocket Moon is packed with tunes that no one else could’ve come up with, each one a weird and beautiful gem. Check out “Yellow Jacket Blues,” an unassuming-at-first Basement Tapes-ish ramble that crams more profundity, humor and absurdity into four minutes than most novels manage in hundreds of pages. Or get lost in the dark corners of the album’s title track, a song whose lyrical complexity calls to mind Leonard Cohen at his best. Joyner can write a perfect simple song, too: “Morning Sun, Slow Down” is a hymn that both celebrates and mourns the inevitable passage of time. World-weary but never jaded, Pocket Moon contains multitudes.
It also just sounds great. Working in tandem with producer/guitarist Michael Krassner, Pocket Moon features ace contributions from drummer Ryan Jewell, multi-instrumentalist Joshua Hill and guitarist Max Knouse, among others. Together, the ensemble creates an easygoing but rich tapestry, subtly and sensitively boosting the roughhewn melodies and ruminations. The overall result is one 2019’s best LPs – and a career highlight for Joyner. words / t wilcox
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