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2023 Albums Thing 206 - Jerry Joseph “Baby, You're The Man Who Would Be King”

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And just like that (thanks to the wonders of Amazon prime) it arrived. I’ve been meaning to investigate the Jerry Joseph that came before “The Beautiful Madness” for some time and then I discover while researching details about that record that he has a new one out…serendipity is it ?

“Baby, You're The Man Who Would Be King” was written in a vintage camping trailer parked in Joseph's driveway in the midst of the pandemic. It was recorded, finally, in New York City with a band including some fine New York musicians including Hammond Organ by Charlie Giordano of the E Street Band. In interviews for the release Joseph has said "These, for me, were a different collection of songs…If there was a theme, it was to focus on simplicity - lord knows I can be, er, verbose…In the end, there's a lot more truth and vulnerability here than I'm willing to publicly concede…Considering the whole Covid driveway origins, it's surreal what we made and I'm just going to call it magic ... for which I am exceedingly grateful."

Almost every album I’ve written about in the last 205 Blog posts have been records I’ve known and lived with for many years. That familiarity make it easier to write about them. This may be the first I’m writing about as a new release (it came out on 29th September and I got my hands on it on 20th October), something I’m not used to but here goes.

First impressions are that this sounds nothing like “The Beautiful Madness”, in fact the first couple of songs lead me to thinking it sounds like a Steve Earle album (which in some circumstances is no bad thing). One thing I noticed on this record that never once crossed my mind when listening to “The Beautiful Madness” is that, at times, Jerry’s voice sounds uncannily like Elvis Costello, again no bad thing in some circumstances. Jerry starts to sound much more like the Jerry I’m used to by 3rd song “20 20 Moons”.  “Book Burning” is very (very) similar to the previous albums “(I'm In Love With) Hyrum Black” and last song on Side 1 “Canadian Boyfriend” has a little of Steely Dan’s wry humour about it.

Things get to sounding much more to my liking on Side 2, particularly the last 2 songs. “Loving Kindness” is a lovely melody that worms its way in and you find yourself humming over and over. “Leaving The lights On” starts with strummed acoustic guitar that really remind me of the way my brother Miles plays. It also has a lyric that really jumped out at me 

The problem with choice, Is you have to choose

It’s something I’ve been convinced of for many years now, just because there is a lot of choice (whatever that choice may be, access to more music, types of coffee in a coffee shop, TV channels, railway companies or anything else) it doesn’t make it any easier or cheaper to find the thing you really need and want.

It took me a few plays to get into “Baby, You're The Man Who Would Be King”, it’s nowhere near as instant as “The Beautiful Madness” was. But I think I’m on this ride with Jerry now, there’s something about him that feels like he’s worth sticking with, so I will. 

Loving Kindness - https://youtu.be/X3DAYzrCtxk?si=9ok5FdCysFY1my0m

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