Simon Joyner

Songs for the New Year

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On Song's for the New Year Simon Joyner creates a masterpiece: an album full of shambling, to-and-fro, swaggering melodies, with lyrics that combine harsh realism with just the right amount of wordplay to keep you guessing. Joyner sounds as if he's bored with simple melancholy, but he also doesn't have the courage to paint a simple, happy picture of the world. In fact, it's easy to picture Joyner himself as the namesake of the leadoff track "The Cowardly Traveler Pays His Toll." The extremes have driven him to a world-weary kind of bemusement. After a few times through the album, you get a sense that Joyner has just been overwhelmed by things, and that the album was born out of a leap-of-faith attempt to grasp it all, or at least a last ditch attempt to document the struggle. The good news is that the album supports repeated listening like few other folk-based albums in recent memory. It should be placed next to the best work of Townes Van Zandt and Leonard Cohen, two artists with whom Joyner is often compared. With Songs for the New Year the artist proves himself to be one of the brightest stars on the singer-songwriter horizon.

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