Saturday, January 10, 2015
Trends exist first in the minds of marketing geniuses, require repetition to achieve some traction with consumers and become redolent of their time period. Patience is required to produce work that has both artistic merit and durability. Whether you are a casual listener or completely immersed in music, you should be aware of the difference between fine wine and grape juice. The true test of any art lies in its shelf life. What brings you back to a really good album? It may be subjective, though a modicum of thought, soul, inspiration and craft always win the day.
Joseph Bridge has made that record
One of the best sets released by any artist in a very long time, it is brimming with invention, impeccable playing, solid writing and incredible melodies. Contemporary musicians will file it under "I wish I had thought of that", while most will be swept up in a song cycle that is dazzling from start to finish.
While there are certain influences present here they are nicely bevelled by muscular playing, razor sharp arrangements and the quirky cast of characters that are presented throughout: Mr. Waterpump, Phyllis the Parking Meter Lady, Ricky the Mouse, Gregory Hawson and Marvin Penn. Marvin encounters all of these personalities, his presence integral to the underlying thread that runs through the disc. While the storyline is only suggested, Marvin spends his time in the thrall of a voice that had reached out to him long ago, stating simply: "I'm trying to find you."
Opening strong, the austere instrumentation of the extremely catchy "Mr. Waterpump" is a perfect backdrop to follow its subject on a sunny stroll through his day. Once lodged in the brain, this is an ideal launching pad to prepare for the onslaught of energy that follows. "Worlds Away" begins with scattershot wordplay, a lone acoustic guitar and quickly explodes into a punchy chorus with precision drumming and a whistled outro that will be instantly recognizable as an inside joke to those familiar with "Two of Us".
When presented with an array of equally powerful tunes, it's tough to pick a highlight. "Phyllis the Parking Meter Lady" is an obvious single, possessing all of the hallmarks of the perfect pop song. Staccato guitar and drum figures push the track, while soaring vocals ice the cake. The refrain is accentuated by decorative trumpet, which is easily assimilated and reinforces a clever hook. This is an absolutely jaw-dropping creation, which speaks volumes as it sits amongst a very stellar group of them.
One of the overall triumphs is the joy that infuses all and sundry. It seems that everyone who participated in these sessions had a blast, playing their parts with an exuberance that radiates from the finished product. Infectious in all respects, that translates to a very upbeat listening experience. Full marks go to Joseph Bridge for the lyrical subject matter. Avoiding pretension, whiny introspection, preachiness or current political issues, he creates a wonderful escape into a realm where the subjects all have great, open ended backstories. Your interpretation of them is what matters and will ensure repeated listens.
Stnadout tracks that will vie for serious radio play are "Ricky the Mouse" and "Gregory Hawson". For those who appreciate the deep cuts on classic discs, the atmosphere created in "Warning" convincingly conjures a mood of impending threat, though it's subtle. The monster lurking in the "back nine" here is the towering "Triangle Clouds" which has a turn around sequence that modern rock bands would sacrifice a limb for, with fret-melting soloing that perfectly complements the melodic heaviness of the piece. The lone cover is Syd Barrett's "Opel" which provides an air of majesty and unfinished business (the voice that reaches out to Marvin Penn). It is rendered beautifully with some tasteful assistance from Keith Scott.
This is work that anyone would be more than proud to sign their name to.
You have my estimation, though I highly recommend to anyone who is reading this to listen for yourself. You may check out and purchase the Joseph Bridge CD on iTunes
You may also learn more about Joseph Bridge here