Joseph Arthur has announced the release of his new album The Family, which will be released through Real World Records on June 3rd and available on vinyl in late June.
If anyone is truly deserving of the title of ‘artist’, it’s the mercurial talent that is Joseph Arthur. He’s been unleashing material for over a decade and a half, his sheer poetic nature and experimental drive gaining him a deservedly fine reputation in the process. Now the singer-songwriter is back with a new album for Real World Records – his fifth for the label that signed him in 1997. Smart, soulful and intricate in ways that most songwriters can only dream of, Joseph’s songs are bursting with ideas – emotionally raw and unyieldingly inventive. His throaty delivery lends a vulnerability to both the beautiful acoustic melodies and harder-edged, expansive driving rock.
Multi-instrumentalist that he is, for The Family Joseph single-handedly takes on vocals, drums, drum programming, pianos, guitars and synths. A first for Joseph, who for the most part writes songs from guitar, the whole album was written at the piano – a Steinway Vertegrande from 1912, that he’d recently acquired. This aged instrument – so full of character and history, and owned by just one family until it ended up in Joseph’s industrial studio space in Red Hook, Brooklyn – was a potent source of inspiration.
Like many suburban kids Joseph’s first experience of music was early piano lessons, sparking contradictory feelings, from failure to opportunity. However, this Steinway Vertegrande inspired Joseph so significantly, he dropped all his other projects (you’ll never find this artist working one thing at time!) and wrote song after song, based around the idea of family. Not Joseph’s family – this album after all is a work of fiction – but family in general. The way family dynamics shape us and make us who we are.
The songs are sung from the perspective of different characters, from different points in history. “Nothing in this album comes from judgment,” explains Joseph. “These are stories being told from different voices and mysterious times, which hopefully resonate with all the families everywhere.”
The album was mixed by Tchad Blake, whose previous collaborations with Joseph include the well-loved songs ‘Honey And The Moon’ and ‘In The Sun’, the latter which has been covered by Michael Stipe and Peter Gabriel.
Joseph is a tireless performer and his unique solo live performances often incorporate the use of a number of distortion and loop pedals, sometimes live painting and a sprinkling of beat-poetry. He recently played at the ‘The Music of David Bowie’ tribute concert at Carnegie Hall alongside Michael Stipe, Debbie Harry, The Pixies, The Flaming Lips and will be playing a one off show at The Borderline in London on April 17th.
Originally discovered by Peter Gabriel, and subsequently signed to his Real World record label in 1997, Joseph quickly established a reputation as a formidable and creative talent with his experimental folk-rock style, diverse instrumentation and eclectic electronic production elements. An accomplished painter, he’s displayed his works in galleries around the world, and his online-only Museum of Modern Arthur (museumofmodernarthur.com) serves as a repository for his creations. He is also a prolific writer, principally of poetry but has also written a children’s book.
With 20+ albums under his belt, Joseph is as known for his solo records as his collaborations with acclaimed performers including Lou Reed, Peter Gabriel, T-Bone Burnett, Dhani Harrison and Ben Harper of Fistful of Mercy and RNDM with Pearl Jam’s Jeff Ament.