Josh Joplin's previous albums were all credited to the Josh Joplin Group, but his "solo" debut features most of the same folks in the credits. Overall, however, Jaywalker is an intriguing departure for the singer/songwriter. Opening track "Mr. New Years Day" is an atypically spirited piece of mature pop/rock, and "Pilgrim's Progress" kicks off with a vaguely Revolver-like blast of trippy guitar. There's an overall sense throughout the album that if Michael Penn were less congenitally mopey, he would sound very much like this, although the Pernice Brothers and Crowded House are also good touchstones, the latter especially on the synth-daubed waltz-time reverie "Empire State," which features an exceedingly Neil Finn-like bridge. Joplin's folk-rock tunes fit the more pop-oriented arrangements nicely, giving the album a bright sheen that doesn't sound cluttered. While it's not a major leap from the Josh Joplin Group albums, Jaywalker is an encouraging move into a new musical direction.
by Stewart Mason