Ani: “I Like Those Songs”…Me too

That’s what Ani DiFranco said in the middle of her stunning set Wednesday evening in Aspen about her opener, Martyn Joseph, a Welsh singer-songwriter reminiscent of Alexandro Escovedo in his plaintive and honest emotional leanings.  I can’t recall a time when I “discovered” a new artist to me, with the career highlights of Joseph, as an opener.  His last studio album, Vegas, is his 29th album and he has had four songs in the UK singles charts.  In 2004, he won Best Male Artist at the BBC Welsh Music Awards

Ani’s comment about “those songs” slyly references the song Joseph closed with on Wednesday and a standout from Vegas, “I have Come to Sing.”  In the gorgeously hooky chorus, Joseph croons, “I have come to sing/These songs for you/I have come to play/Every shadow every word/I have come to drag you from the bed you’re lying in.”   The rest of the song is structured lyrically around seven elements and one-sentence statements of each: hope, peace, mercy, faith, grace, the sun, and being blind.  For blind, Joseph opines for “Ambition drunk with pride and pain and before I say any more.”  For faith, he laments, “The other side of knowing and a thousand questions how.”

In “Vegas,” Joseph sings an American tale that rings as true as one from Springsteen.  It captures the story of hopeful renewal in Las Vegas through the eyes of a widowed 80 year-old native Nebraskan cabbie–“He says this is the where it happens/This is the place to be found/Says everyone coming from somwhere/Trying to turn luck around.”

I spoke to Joseph after the show and asked if Cardiff-based Spillers Records, the oldest record shop in the world, founded in 1894, was still around (Jason heard rumors while in the UK…), and it is!  Joseph added he was actually traveling with one of their shirts and I asked, “In red?”  He responded it was indeed in red and that he would have to tell the staff that he found a former customer, of all places, in Aspen, Colorado.  Jason can often be found sporting the same Spillers shirt.

A great album, a great artist.  Many albums to pursue.

Streaming audio:

“I Have Come to Sing”


Piper Records – Joseph’s own label


1 Response to “Ani: “I Like Those Songs”…Me too”

  1. 1 Steve Pledger
    June 28, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    As an England-based MJ follower, it’s great to hear that he’s ‘over there’ wowing folks on Ani’s tour. (Including Ani herself, by the sound of things!) He is an extraordinary writer, performer and person. I have to wait a few months for my next live fix, but as Joe has said hear, there are any number of albums to source, which demonstrate clearly what an artist he is. Martyn would probably tell you that anything from ‘An Aching and a Longing’ onwards is safe to listen to, but prior to that album (1988) he tends to distance himself from. Not for me to comment, except to say that over the years, Martyn has produced some the finest work I’ve heard from anyone, and I listen to a fair amount of music too! I love much of what he has put out over the last 20 years, but for me, his last 3 studio albums have been incredible. (Breathe in): ‘Whoever it was That Brought Me Here Will Have to Take Me Home’, ‘Deep Blue’ and ‘Vegas’. There’s also a live album called MJGB06′, available form his website, which does a fine job of demonstrating on CD, what he does on stage. A superb set! His recordings, and especially his live performances, are life-affirming, even life changing stuff. I really cannot recommend him enough.

    Hang in there, everyone!

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