Monday, February 16, 2009

Mighty Joe: Balance

There’s a singer-songwriter who’s been bouncing around the Chicago corridor for a few years now, and those who have stumbled across him have been happy they happened to be in that place. Mighty Joe can be found out in the bars playing by himself, playing songs from his own vast catalogue, sometimes alternated with your typical bar fare. Other times he’ll be accompanied by any number of like-minded musicians; other times he’ll be doing a wedding. He puts himself at the center of the music, and the crowds love him.
Balance is his seventh self-released album, and it is the pinnacle of what he’s all about. Herein you will find songs that equally lament the lessons learned from a night deep in one’s cups, alongside songs that champion the individual quest for divine acceptance. Most of these are songs from Joe’s own pen, but even the few he didn’t write have been bent to his own style that make them original statements.
The titles don’t tell the whole story; time spent within such tracks as “Sleep Alone”, “Nicotine Breakfast” and “No End” are worth the trip, while the portraits within “Man In The Cage” and “Great Unknown” just scratch the surface of something incredibly profound. And these are just his newest songs; he’s got six other CDs full of compositions of the same high quality.
His influences range from John Prine to Paul Westerberg, from Bob Dylan to Paul Weller. But oddly enough, what he does is so original that it all falls under his brand. This is real music, performed by a real singer-songwriter. The melodies are catchy without being redundant; the words are intelligent without being pompous. There’s something for everyone here, and all of it is honest and heartfelt. Mighty Joe is a performer who rewards those seeking something different among the acoustic troubadours still pounding the pavement in the 21st century. Should you find yourself so lucky as to cross his path, you’ll be looking forward to the next time he’s in town to pick up where you left off. Failing that, he’ll probably be playing a few towns away, so if you make the trip, he’ll be awfully glad to see you.

Mighty Joe Balance (2006)—4

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