Joseph Arthur is a bard of our times. Junk all those fiddle-dee-dee connotations, negate any sense of antiquity you associate with the word, and reach for its true essence. It is something beyond the singer-songwriter, a term too broad to do justice to the passion with which he performs. Joseph Arthur is a mainline conduit from the collective spirit of Western urban society on the verge of breakdown, and expresses that spirit within his art.
In the early 90's Joseph Arthur was recording home demos, playing local Atlanta clubs and working at Clark Music Store. As luck should have it, Peter Gabriel's A&R associate Harvey Schwartz was presenting him some new artists at his apartment in New York City. Once Gabriel heard the lyrics to "History" he repeated the line "your history acts as your gravity" over and over realizing the talented songwriter was a great fit for his label Real World Records. Both he and Schwartz arranged a live audition at the Fez in NYC, where Arthur flew up from Atlanta. The night was clearly a success as Gabriel had enlisted friend Lou Reed to record the show. Within a few months Arthur was signed and Big City Secrets was recorded at his Real World Studios with Marcus Dravs (experimental Bjoerk engineer) producing the album. Two years later, he recorded an EP called Vacancy, which earned him a Grammy nomination for the artistic packaging.
2000 saw the release of Come to Where I'm From, the album that, for the first time, exposed him to a larger audience (also thanks to opening up for Ben Harper and Gomez). During the same period, a live album recorded at the Gypsy Tea Room in Dallas saw a promotional release. After releasing 4 EPs called Junkyard Hearts, his third album, called Redemption's Son, came out in May 2002.
In the middle of a long and successful tour during which performances were, to a large extent, recorded and sold immediately after the last note had been played, he found time to release one more album: an alternative rock project called Holding The Void. Summer 2003 saw him on tour with Tracy Chapman in the US. After signing a new recording contract with Vector Recordings, Arthur finished working on what is his fourth official full album, Our Shadows Will Remain. While touring the US alone and with Joan Wasser, a new EP called And the Thieves Are Gone came out in December 2004. Shortly afterwards, Arthur went on a brief tour with R.E.M. throughout Europe.
Arthur spent 2005 again on tour in both the US and Europe. Arthur staged his first art exhibition in 2006 at the Vertigo Gallery in London on February 10 to February 12. He also contributed a design to the Yellow Bird Project for the benefit of Mercy Corps. He released an artbook with accompanying instrumental CD in May 2006, titled The Invisible Parade (CD) + We Almost Made It (book).
His song "In The Sun" was covered by Michael Stipe (of R.E.M.) and Coldplay singer Chris Martin in 2006 for a Hurricane Katrina Relief program. The EP includes 6 versions of the cover, one of which has Arthur himself singing with Stipe, and another remixed by Justin Timberlake. It was also covered by Peter Gabriel for the Diana and Dodi Tribute CD.
On March 26, 2007, 14th Floor Records released a special single for the 2002 song 'Honey And The Moon' in the UK only. The single is in anticipation for the UK release of his albums Nuclear Daydream and Let's Just Be. April 17, 2007 saw the US release of his sixth studio album, Let's Just Be, the first album recorded with his band The Lonely Astronauts. A US tour followed the album's release.
Always one to stay prolific, Joseph is currently working on the follow-up to Let's Just Be, which was released on 15th May 2007 in the US and will be released on 3rd September 2007 in the UK. In a recent interview, Joseph stated that he wants his next album to be a solo record. The reported 80 songs that he and his band The Lonely Astronauts recorded in late 2006 (16 of which yielded the Let's Just Be album), however, might see the light of day at a later date. It was then posted on drummer Greg Wieczorek's MySpace page (for his side-project Telescope) that Joseph and the Lonely Astronauts have finished recording 20 new songs with Kenny Siegal (of the band Johnny Society) at Old Soul Studios in the Catskills. No release date has been set, but it is expected to be out before the end of 2007.
Other Albums Featuring Joseph Arthur
Double CD released December 3rd. Thirty tracks follow the intrepid bikers on their journey south from John O'Groats to South Africa.
Find out more about the artists whose music was specially chosen to feature on the Long Way Down television series, DVD and CD. Read the background to the musicians and buy digital downloads of tracks heard on the series.
Catch up with what is happening to Ewan and Charley episode by episode and trace the music you can hear as the journey unfolds week by week.