Simon Joyner Out Into the Snow Review

Released 2009.  

BBC Review

An artist for whom more praise needs to be sung.

Luke Slater 2009

It would be an entirely fair assessment to describe Omaha man Simon Joyner’s career as under the radar; he is an artist who is not so much an unsung hero as a peculiarly unheard one.

Though revered by many inside the industry – Conor Oberst, John Peel and Beck to name a few – the mention of his name to most outside a relatively small circle of fans elicits a blank response – remarkable for a man who has recorded nearly an album a year of the highest quality since the mid-90s. Out Into the Snow is the next chapter in the Simon Joyner story, and it’s one as full of the flavours of Americana and downbeat country-folk as we have ever heard from him.

Joyner’s calling card is the ‘long’ folk song yet, such is the skill which he possesses, never are they stretched or weakened, despite often exceeding eight minutes, a length almost unknown in the genre. Opener The Drunken Boat does just that, as the structure and form mutates and varies with serene strings gradually turning to staccato rhythms whilst Joyner’s soft words echo around an array of now sombrely toned instruments. And it’s not only his voice that is richly dense, as the arrangements which surround this record at times threaten to engulf the higher-ranged and strained vocal moments, demonstrated during the lesson in ‘how to nail dynamics’ that is Ambulances.

As is the case with much of his back catalogue, the calm and laidback approach only lasts for so long in each track, and indeed each album. The relative joy espoused early on in Out Into the Snow makes way for bleakness further in. Peace in My Time sees a ‘lump-in-the-throat’ foreboding depression enter, something redolent of the master of that particular style, Elliott Smith. We see here an artist who is nothing but a master in reeling in and out an emotional attachment through carefully considered words and chords, and this is done several times throughout.

Simon Joyner is an artist for whom more praise needs to be sung, preferably out loud, but, as Out Into the Snow so roundly shows in eight songs and 47 minutes, he’s quite possibly the perfect candidate to do it for himself.

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