Sunday, April 5, 2015

come to where i'm from

Joseph Arthur tried to find something to believe in the exhausted gravity and chemical catharsis of this stark and sensitive broken soul.   He started playing and writing songs as a teenager, playing in a band called Frankie Starr and the Chill Factor in Akron, Ohio.  After high school, he relocated to Atlanta, Georgia and continued performing and writing songs.  Arthur recollects:   “[As a child] I listened to heavy metal and my sister was into Floyd or Dylan but that was, like, her music. Then I got into Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin and other stuff but I never started singing until I was in my early 20s. I remember thinking, ‘OK—I am not a singer, I am a musician.’ I wanted to be this like heroic bass player so I listened to people like Jaco Pastroius, just smoking weed listening to Bitches Brew over and over again. And then like Nirvana came out and I was blown away and then I got into Bob Dylan...Around that time I started playing acoustic guitar and realized I could actually write songs if I wasn’t playing complicated bass lines. It was much easier to concentrate on melody and lyrics and the things I responded to on an emotional level when I listened to music. I had only been singing for a couple years when I signed with Real World. I was so lucky. I passed [my demo] out to a few people and it ended up in Peter Gabriel’s hands completely randomly. “

Gabriel arranged for  a live audition at The Fez nightclub in New York City, and Arthur was signed to Real World Records.  His debut album 'Big City Secrets' was recorded at Real World Studios in England and released in 1997; and Arthur joined Gabriel on the European WOMAD tour.   He was nominated for a Grammy for the packaging of the interim EP 'Vacancy' which was recorded during the same time as his sophomore album 'Come To Where I'm From'.  The sessions took place at Sound City and  Sunset Sound with producers T-Bone Burnett, Rick Will, Tchad Blake, and Joseph Arthur.  The album features  Joseph Arthur on guitar and vocals on all tracks;   with Carla Azar on drums, background vocals, and shaker;   T-Bone Burnett on piano;  Markus Dravs on programming;  "Eugene" on "Fuzzheart";   Ben Findlay on acoustic guitar;   Nadia Lanman on cello;   Jim Keltner on drums;   "Stella" on background vocals;   and  Rick Will on "explosions" and  synthesizer.  

Arthur says:   "[Gabriel's] friendship and mentoring has been something I really needed.  He knew I needed to grow when he signed me. I wouldn't have survived had I been signed to a regular record label. He helped me grow a lot...Deep down, I'm not hip. And I think that does help in art, because the less self-conscious you are, the better...When I paint, I learn more about making music...I can bring more freedom to making music because my painting is really free, it teaches me"). But it's Arthur's acknowledgment that "dreams, fears and love live" in his music that brings a special quality to Where I'm From that's overwhelmingly real...I'm always moved by people who allow themselves to be vulnerable in music," he says. "I wanted to do something that had human imperfection in it. I think there's a quote—I forget who said it-but [it's] 'in the future, beauty will be in imperfection ... I like a mix of some things more crafted than others...I get bored if nothing's crafted, if it's all just spontaneous, unconscious stuff. But there's a space for that, too-I get bored if it's all well-crafted and controlled as well. So finding a mix is what I try to do ... The album is like an invitation . I am experimenting with being open as opposed to experimenting with being closed which I did before - but that didn't work. I am trying to connect with people but that is very dangerous to do as people often resent it when you try and connect with them. Some people resent it - some people appreciate it. The people that do try and connect are usually very sensitive and so when they stumble upon the people that resent them trying to connect they sometimes get hurt. So it's dangerous to try and connect. But you only live once ... I'm reacting to the fact that popular music today is overwhelmingly programmed and perfect...That makes for a more powerful sound, but it's starting to make everything sound safe and generic. You don't ever feel that something could actually fall apart, or that there's a humanity behind it. You don't feel that slightly broken quality that makes my favourite records great, like the first Velvet Underground record ... I've learned a lot since I toured the first record, Big City Secrets, and developed a live show from that. And I'm still developing -- I'm a late bloomer. With Big City Secrets I got a lot of people who'd be like, 'I like you live so much better than your record,' and at first it was upsetting. If you're a fan of somebody live and they're delivering their heart and soul to you, it's going to be more powerful than a record. That's just a photograph of that time, and you've got to accept it and appreciate it for what it is. But, hopefully, whatever energy people are reacting to live, I'm coming closer to capturing ... I wanted to get the songs down in a way that was true to them and true to myself. I really wanted them to have humanity in them. I wanted an element of a gamble in it. I think too much music sounds too contained. I wanted it to sound like it could go out of control at any minute. I didn't want it produced to death."

"In The Sun"

I picture you in the sun wondering what went wrong
And falling down on your knees asking for sympathy
And being caught in between all you wish for and all you seen
And trying to find anything you can feel that you can believe in

May God's love be with you
May God's love be with you

I know I would apologize if I could see your eyes
'Cause when you showed me myself I became someone else
But I was caught in between all you wish for and all you need
I picture you fast asleep
A nightmare comes
You can't keep awake

May God's love be with you
May God's love be with you

'Cause if I find
If I find my own way
How much will I find
If I find
If I find my own way
How much will I find

I don't know anymore
What it's for
I'm not even sure
If there is anyone who is in the sun
Will you help me to understand
'Cause I been caught in between all I wish for and all I need
Maybe you're not even sure what it's for
Any more than me

May God's love be with you
May God's love be with you



'Come To Where I'm From'
full album:

All songs written and composed by Joseph Arthur.

1. "In the Sun"   5:36
2. "Ashes Everywhere"   4:51
3. "Chemical"   4:11
4. "History"   5:40
5. "Invisible Hands"   5:14
6. "Cockroach"   3:02
7. "Exhausted"   4:46
8. "Eyes on My Back"   4:03
9. "Tattoo"   4:10
10. "The Real You"   5:27
11. "Creation or a Stain"   4:34
12. "Speed of Light"   4:30

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