File this one under it’s never too late to give an album a fair shake if you really believe is worth spreading the word about it’s worth. Simon Joyner’s Lost With The Lights On came out in the middle of 2004 but didn’t register on my radar. And judging by the fact that songs from the album haven’t left my ears since I picked it up over two weeks ago, I suppose I’m trying to make up for lost time.
Joyner belongs to the same school that claims Townes Van Zandt, Leonard Cohen, Will Oldham and Smog’s Bill Callahan. He’s a brooding troubadour with down beat songs from the quiet fringes of society. Snapshots of love surrendered and a yearning for redemption play out over subdued arrangements with pensive lyrics. Joyner croons on “Happy Woman” (mp3), “The archway is broad enough for two / But it holds one with plenty of breathing room / The highway is narrow, but never ending / You can’t get comfortable, but it’s forgiving.”
Moments of rebirth and resolve are found in the chorus of “Birds Of Spring”: “Hallelujah to the heart that burns / That breaks and heals and never learns.” The most telling insight of Joyner struggling with his own demons can be found in “Blue” (mp3): “It’s not so easy said the rain / You want the wound without the pain / To be forgiven but not betrayed / To stand naked and unashamed.”
It’s one of those albums that you turn to in moments of quiet reflection. Not for answers, but for a sense of camaraderie. Just to take solace that you’re not alone and that there is meaning with every wound endured.