Joseph Arthur Shining From Under The Radar

Excerpted from the magazine for

For those who know Joseph Arthur's music well, it can sometimes be baffling how his work -- like that of so many acclaimed singer/songwriters -- seems to hover just under the radar.

But for Arthur himself, it's not really a big deal. "It has bothered me in the past," he says, "but I don't know; I like my life. It's kind of nice being under the radar. There's advantages to it, there's less distractions, and you remain human." He notes with a chuckle, "It's more people outside of me who complain about it for me and go, 'Why? Why? Why?'"

With the new "Redemption's Son," his admirers have even more reason to wonder why the Akron, Ohio-raised, New York-based artist isn't a more known commodity. Issued earlier this year in Europe on RealWorld and delivered Nov. 26 in the U.S. on Enjoy/Universal (via a licensing deal with RealWorld), the set is arguably his finest; it melds some of his most optimistic lyrics ("You've Been Loved") with some of his prettiest, most enveloping soundscapes ("Honey and the Moon").

On his first day on the job as Arthur's A&R man, and only vaguely aware of the artist, Andy Factor -- who co-founded Enjoy last year with Ben Harper producer/manager J.P. Plunier -- recalls visiting Arthur and producer T-Bone Burnett in the studio during the recording of "Come to Where I'm From."

"I was just overwhelmed," he recalls. "Listening to what he was writing about -- on that personal level -- and the way he was performing it and the sound of his voice, I was just getting chills."

"It's kind of a big record, and it's lush in a way," Arthur, 31, says, noting that "Redemption's Son" is a reaction of sorts to his widely acclaimed 2000 set "Come to Where I'm From," his second full-length in the U.S. That album "was a bit more raw, maybe. And that's why I went where I went with 'Redemption's Son.' But now, I think I'm probably reacting against that -- I'm really into rock'n'roll lately." In fact, Arthur, whose music is relatively sedate, has begun to delve into heavier music with the raw, stripped-down rock practiced by his new band, Holding the Void.

Europe has seen the release of four Arthur EPs this year, "Junkyard Hearts" volumes 1-4, a few tracks from which replaced album cuts on the U.S. version of "Redemption's Son." Though the album has great potential, Arthur says he's not holding his breath in hopes it will become a crossover hit: "As long as I can keep making records and have a bed to sleep in and food in my stomach, that's a pretty good deal."

Excerpted from the Dec.21, 2002, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the members section.

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