Scarborough’s troubadour extraordinaire returns with a brand new album for 2011.
His eighth in seven years sees him in great form – his punk sensibility merges with political folk to great effect.
A mixture of original songs with three judiciously chosen covers thrown into the mix shows why Joe is beginning to make waves (Radio 2 airplay via the Mike Harding Show) and gather a loyal fanbase (including Martin Simpson I believe).
Pete Seeger’s Lonesome Traveller and If I Had a Hammer are given a new lease of life with Joe’s unusual phrasing managing to reinvigorate two songs that might otherwise be consigned to history and the Clash’s Rebel Waltz works very well in this acoustic setting.
However it’s his unique songwriting that really shines through – from the blues tinged Ain’t-a-Got-a-Nothing to a great folk song The Pull - about the Visitor, a boat shipwrecked at Robin Hood’s Bay, and the rescue attempt.
Little Red Songbook is a touching acknowledgement of major influences on his songwriting / performing (Woody Guthrie and Josh White) and Ain’t Gonna be a Pawn no More is a call to arms in these troubled political, social and economic times when the last thing we need is the Eton élite telling us how we should live our lives.
Menthol Cigarettes is a touching reminiscence: “Ten years chasing rainbows, They can’t unless you’ve been there, In a rock ‘n’ roll band”.
Joe’s life as a washing-machine repairman has given him many stories which have evolved into songs on this album including Ghost of an ‘83 Ford (with hints of Ode to Billy Joe in its melody line) and the aforesaid Ain’t-a-Got-a-Nothing.
Broken Man is a great tale of defiance and musically harks back to Guthrie and Dylan.
All in all it’s a great album from a gem of a performer destined to establish himself on the national scene in 2011.