Joseph Arthur
Devil’s Broom

Let’s get this review out before Mr Arthur opens his art exhibition at London’s Vertigo gallery, plays his sold out London shows, and finishes his long happy career with a nomination to the US Hall of Fame / ‘Where Are They Now’ programme.

Fortunately for me with only one track on offer it actually takes longer to read all the quotes in the inside cover then to listen to it. Unfortunately for Joseph Arthur these quotes push the bar up very high indeed with the likes of:

‘As good as music gets’ Sunday Times
‘This years best singer-songwriter has arrived’ Q ( 4 stars)
‘A joy to come across’ Scotland on Sunday

…and with statements like that ( although I can’t help grinning about the last one’s alternate meaning), I’m expecting quite a lot.

In fact, even before listening to this, and putting the quotes to one side, I can tell you that just by looking at the packaging and artwork, the term ‘bad production values’ will certainly not apply here. It has slick, smooth and ‘I’m brilliant’ written all over it, and to be fair ( although my evil twin would love to swing the proverbial boot at the testicles after such a grandiose build up) it’s really not too bad at all.

The track starts slightly worryingly with what sounds like an updated, acoustic/orchestral version of ‘Road to Hell’ that is until the arrival of Arthur’s voice. And what a voice it is. Think Jagger crossed with deeper version of The Black Crowes’ Chris Robinson and you have the sort of vox that carries enough gravity to stop you dead in your tracks while still managing to retain enough boogie to keep your foot tapping like a happy clapper on a clappathon ( whatever the hell one of those is).

Musically the track boasts some nice acoustic guitar work, an interesting electric guitar break and some excellent drumming. However, I personally don’t like the synth bolstering up the track and making the whole thing sound bigger than it needs to be which just highlights the intense production which has gone into this tune. It would have come across fresher if it sounded much more like its simple, encompassing artwork and photography looked. That said, it’s eminently saved by being a well written song, full of lyrical hooks and delivered with one hell of a voice.

On this effort, I’d say a worthy contender was about to enter the Powter and Blunt arena, but you can judge for yourself when Devil’s Broom is released on 13th February.

Written by Habert on

Pete Habert was sub-editor for The Mag and co-ordinated submissions from the swarm of writers that contributed articles from their local music scenes.

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