Joseph Arthur - Vagabond Skies
Record Label: Lonely Astronaut Records
Release Date: June 10, 2008
Few singer/songwriters can match the career of Brooklyn’s Joseph Arthur. Ever since his breakout album Come To Where I’m From, the Akron native has received positive accolades everywhere he goes. Be it his captivating live sets or his highly acclaimed studio albums, it appears everything Arthur touches turn to gold. His newest album, a six-song EP entitled Vagabond Skies, is another eclectic effort that combines roots-rock, California pop, loop-and-swirl electro effects and singer/songwriter subtlety. The project, which is the third in a series of four EP’s out this year, proves his consistency but doesn’t do much to bolster his musical catalog.
Of the six songs, only one, “She Paints Me Gold,” is really a standout. Second track “When Yer Feelin’ Blue” is a deadringer for Bob Dylan and opener “Slow Me Down” is Arthur’s attempt at Beach Boys pop, albeit with his trademark sandpapery vocals. He has gone on record as saying the album is meant to be stripped down and have a ‘late night’ feel. Of the other tracks, “Pretty Good Company” tries its best to be a single but gets caught up in the electronic sounds and doesn’t really ever distinguish itself; “Second Sight” just falls flat; and closer “It’s Too Late” is decent if not a bit mediocre. But all things considered it’s an okay release.
While it’s certainly not the best introduction to his music it is worth picking up for the studio version of “She Paints Me Gold.” The song, which has been a part of Arthur’s live set since 2002, is a gorgeous and haunting song that has a near three-minute guitar solo that is nothing short of stunning. That being said, this is still an incredible disc that would serve as a towering achievement for most musicians. That it's only mediocre for Arthur is certainly saying something. Despite how often it underwhelms, at the end of the day, this is still first-rate musicianship and highly-skilled proficiency at its finest.