Nebraska native Simon Joyner is regularly cited as a huge influence on artists like Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes) and Beck, though the lo-fi troubadour has never enjoyed anywhere near the commercial success and acclaim as his contemporaries. And that’s a shame, because the 43-year-old Joyner is a very talented musician who has been delivering (mostly) terrific albums since 1993.
“Pound for pound Simon Joyner is my favorite lyricist of all time,” Oberst gushes. “He has shades of all the greats but exists in a space all his own. Since I first heard his music at the tender age of 12, not a year has passed that I haven’t waited for and been rewarded with an amazing Simon Joyner release of one kind or another. He is truly an American songwriting treasure. It is my hope that more people will discover his music and share in the unique joy that it brings.”
Latest platter “Grass, Branch & Bone” ranks among Joyner’s stronger offerings, which is saying something for a guy who has been remarkably consistent over the years. It’s a sparse collection of nine tracks that allows the listener to focus on the lyrics that Oberst loves so much. The opening trio of “Sonny,” “Train to Crazy Horse” and personal favorite “You Got Under My Skin” gets the album off to a splendid start, and Joyner further soars on “Some Fathers,” “I Will Not Be Your Fool” and “Nostalgia Blues.” Great stuff. (Jeffrey Sisk)