Labor & Spirits
Although he’s been playing for a long while, Emory Joseph didn’t enter the studio until he was well beyond thirty to produce this, his first album. A late debut indeed, but it’s been well worth the wait, not least considering the friends he’s had time to make over the years (Levon Helm, Kenny Aronoff and T-Bone Walker) are only some of the many fine musicians making guest appearances on here.
Joseph occupies center stage himself, with a confident air about him and a bunch of fine songs coming from his guitar. He has certainly spent some time listening to The Band and Little Feat, with Labor & Spirits offering country blues with a raunchy looseness and a feel-good, blue-collar approach. It’s a fun and carefree collection of songs (making up for the album’s sometimes uneven songwriting), with lighthearted and highly competent performances.
“Fun” bonus tracks are obviously never funny — no exceptions. Studio banter must die. That aside, this is a surprisingly well-rounded debut disc of harmless country blues, inconsequential but pleasant music. Let’s hope Emory doesn’t need another thirty years to come up with his next one.
Emory Joseph: http://www.emoryjoseph.com/