Friday, March 1, 2024

Archive Review: Joseph Arthur's Come To Where I’m From (2000)

Joseph Arthur's Come To Where I’m From
Joseph Arthur is the latest in a long line of acoustic-based folk-rock troubadours that probably began with Tim Buckley and will carry on in an eternal, unending cycle of songs appealing to teenage girls needing a sensitive male artist to swoon over. Not that I have anything against such artists – they’re certainly preferable to the pre-fab and coldly-calculated pop dreck of boy bands like N’Sync. Truth be told, there was something morbidly satisfying about Buckley’s suicidal death-wish poetry and anti-celebrity introversion that even brought down as stalwart a rocker as Kurt Cobain (not to mention probably cursed his son Jeff at birth).

With the exception of a couple of songs, however, Arthur only displays two speeds on Come To Where I’m From – morose and moroser. Those exceptions can be pretty crunchy, like the Nirvana-styled “Exhausted” or the rambling “Creation of A Stain.” More often than not, however, Arthur merely provides us with a teasing false start, as with the wickedly distorted guitar that opens “History” or the discordant percussion that frames “Eyes On My Back.” Mostly Arthur merely drones on above a lush musical soundtrack produced with his usual deft hand by T-Bone Burnett. If you’re into the sensitive, troubled troubadour kind of thing, you’ll find that Arthur does it as well as anybody on Come To Where I’m From.

Personally, I’ll take my pain straight, no chaser, with blues artists like Robert Johnson or Son House, or just bludgeon myself into an uncaring, blissful state with a glorious din from the likes of Motörhead. Either way, I’ll wake up in the morning with only a fraction of the self-loathing and lack of respect felt by Arthur and his ilk. Extra bonus: the cover art and inside graphics for Come To Where I’m From are from paintings by Arthur, a sure sign of multi-artistic compulsion. (Real World/Virgin Records)

Review originally published by Alt.Culture.Guide™ zine, 2000

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