The Ballad of Boogie Christ: Act 2
The Ballad of Boogie Christ
For every song Joseph Arthur has released in a critically acclaimed, Grammy-nominated career that has spanned ten full-length albums and 11 EPs, he's probably kept three others in the vault for safekeeping. Originally from Ohio and now based in Brooklyn, Joseph has developed an intimate relationship with the city of Montreal. For this latest album, Joseph returned to his early mentor, Peter Gabriel.
Joseph Arthur continued his banner Ballad of Boogie Christ 2013 year by releasing its follow up album, The Ballad of Boogie Christ: Act 2, in Canada (digital) via Bonsound on November 29th.
This album is loosely based around a character that’s either enlightened or insane, like all of us, Joseph tells American Songwriter. It’s a sonic landscape across the last few years of my life excavating material for my captors, though they were illusions, every last one of them.
Act 2 was created when Joseph reunited with his formative mentor, Peter Gabriel. In 1996, Gabriel reached out to a then-unknown Arthur, wowed by his demo. Joseph was his first signing. So Joseph sent Peter a note accompanying Boogie Christ: Is this something you’d be interested in putting out? and the response was a resounding yes. I was surprised he was as enthusiastic and touched he was. He wrote me this really moving email saying, Welcome home. So Act 2 was released on Real World Records in the UK and Europe, and in the US on Joseph’s imprint, Lonely Astronaut on November 29.
Recorded at a range of studios in New York, California and Minnesota, the 12 songs here extend the themes and vivid narratives introduced on Act 1 of Boogie Christ, named for a fictional character Arthur based loosely on his own life. Among the contributors are the Band's legendary pianist Garth Hudson, bassist Catherine Popper and multi-instrumentalist Kraig Jarret Johnson.
A highlight of Act 2 is the gripping Akron Skies, which reminds that buried deep within every rock'n'roll star are formative childhood memories of pain and confusion. That song paints the picture of a child who escapes into his imagination to perhaps leave an uncomfortable place,says Joseph. It shows how darkness can bring us to our dreams. Elsewhere, Holding the Void employs gentle acoustic guitar finger-picking, pedal steel, harmonica, angelic backing vocals and winsome piano to paint the portrait of a woman stuck in a world of her own making, while the uplifting House of Your Love affirms that compassion will endure for eternity in your hops and dreams.
Says Arthur of part 2, I feel like it definitely tells a story. It sounds ridiculous to quote your mom, but she equated this album to the end of a novel. She's a tough critic, so I took her opinion as a really good sign.