- Open Window Blues
- You Don't Know Me
- Answer Night
- Medicine Blues
- The Only Living Boy In Omaha
- Epilogue In D
- My Side Of The Blues
For Simon Joyner's tenth proper album, he's joined by his working Omaha band, the Fallen Men. What they've created is a dark, rock-and-roll, beginning or ending of an era, seven leaf catalogue of people (skeletons) and their troubles (blues). Sounding like Doug Yule-era Velvet Underground, Dylan with the Band (or is it Neil Young and Crazy Horse?), and Sister Lovers damaged Big Star, this is unlike any other Simon Joyner record.
The song cycle begins with a cobblestone street inviting a man in an open window to splash the bricks below, to the cadence of It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding), and ends with a man walking down the street waiting for the rain to wash him clean. In between is all the news fit to sing. Joyner knows it takes a worried man to sing a worried song and the songs here are certainly worried, peopled by bruised lives, but make no mistake, this is not hopeless music.
Unlike recent albums recorded in studios with professional musicians, Joyner expanded his Fallen Men and recorded live in a vacant old train station building in Omaha over the course of one lost weekend. Veteran collaborator Michael Krassner flew in to engineer and was forced to join the band on "warehouse" piano. Chris Deden (drummer from the early Sing, Eunuchs! records) returns, along with the protean Alex McManus (The Bruces, Lambchop, Bright Eyes), this time cutting his teeth on pedal steel and sharing lead guitar duties with Dave Hawkins. Lonnie Methe is back too, playing organ and vibes instead of violin. Mike Tulis plays the bass.
Skeleton Blues explores themes of loyalty, alienation, death, time, war and divorce. Like the doctor who warns his patient in the Passenger (from 1998's Yesterday, Tomorrow and In Between), "go forth and run and hide but you're just like all the others I've seen, a skeleton inside," Joyner views our struggle for beauty and meaning to be more important than our fear of death and the unknown. His skeletons are people in states of transition, falling and climbing, failing sometimes but always swimming the backstroke from the rolling graveyards.
Simon Joyner writes and makes music in Omaha, Nebraska. Although he tours only occasionally, he continues to charge the musical landscape each time he releases a fresh battery of songs.
(JAG096 released: 11/21/06)