JOSEPH ARTHUR

josepharthurJOSEPH ARTHUR – ‘The Ballad of Boogie Christ’
Double albums aren’t an easy sell. There needs to be enough balance and quality throughout to engage both the uninitiated and hardcore fanbase for consistent play through.  At worst, a double disc can appear a little self-indulgent and pretentious.  At best, it’s a jewel encrusted box of seemingly endless delights that rewards with repeat listens.  The Ballad of Boogie Christ, the tenth studio album by American singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur (no not the X Factor guy) kinda falls in between the cracks.  A successful crowd-funding drive through PledgeMusic netted him a decent sized budget, and he’s clearly made use of it.  With 24 tracks on a double CD collection, Arthur is what can be loosely described as an ‘artist’s artist’.  Barely breaking into the mainstream but having graced the studio with such names as Peter Gabriel and Brian Eno, he’s a brave folk-rock pioneer with a penchant for the avant-garde.  Chock full of folk tinged rock songs, replete with horn solos and soulful backup singers, ‘Boogie Christ’ is a fictional character loosely based on Arthur himself, which plays to the exaggerated adventurer in him.  The title track is a poignant observance about Jesus walking the earth in the modern day, with a soulful horn section and a gospel chorus, it’s reminiscent of Beck in all his pomp.  There are notable moments of accessibility in the shape of the orchestral ‘Currency Of Love’, ‘The Saint of Impossible Causes’ and ‘In The City’ that serve to increase commercial appeal.  And there’s a definite psychedelic vibe playing through the wild ‘Black Flowers’, with strong basslines and punchy horns.  For all its grandiosity Boogie Christ is well written and performed with seasoned musicianship and clever compositions.  While the instrumentation stands out, it is Arthur’s lyrical prowess and rich storytelling that should ultimately make it a success. Does it work as a double album?  Just about.  Twenty Four tracks is a lot to consume, particularly for the unfamiliar, but it yields some strong moments that are well worth a listen.  (6)
MICHAEL ALBERT

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