Emory Joseph

Labor & Spirits

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Backed by an unusually distinguished bunch of musicians for a debut effort, Emory Joseph delivers a set of refreshing original songs, with clever lyrics, shuffling, low-tech grooves, and a style of singing that ranges from goofball to almost sentimental. Clearly the Band has left its mark; the horn section on "Carolina Princess" could have been lifted right out of "Life Is a Carnival." But Joseph's lyrics betray a lighter, though still rustic, touch; striving for nothing more than comic dexterity, "Rhum and Coffee" turns a simple list of drinks into a hilarious paean to getting blasted. ("I ain't tried no absinthe 'cause it'd likely kill my ass," he confides over a bouncy, barroom beat.) A picture eventually emerges of Joseph as a promising and endearing talent: "Some things will always stay the same," a truism if there ever was one in pop music, becomes the listener's path into the poetic, introspective narrative that unfolds as "The Same."

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