Joseph Arthur is heading to London to play songs from his latest solo album, ‘The Family’.
The singer, songwriter, poet, and artist originally from Akron, Ohio plays Oslo in Hackney on 8 November 2016 as part of a European tour.
Before he sets out across the Atlantic, he’s released ‘The Campaign Song’ to express his frustration with Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy.
“Woody Guthrie wrote a protest song about Donald Trump’s grandfather. So this is like carrying the torch for Woody,” explains Arthur. “I used the lingo of a bygone era to accentuate that aspect like ‘America really should boot bums like this out’ and ‘Old scratch’. I wanted to use the lingo of Trump’s elders as subtle form of linguistic manipulation designed to send him under his bed shivering like the whimpering maggot that he is.”
Originally discovered by Peter Gabriel in the mid-90s, Arthur has since released over 20 albums, including solo LPs and collaborations with Dhani Harrison and Ben Harper (as Fistful of Mercy), and Pearl Jam’s Jeff Ament (as RNDM) .
His latest release, ‘The Family’, once again sees the multi-instrumentalist take on vocals, drums, drum programming, pianos, guitars, and synths. But this time the musician, who usually composes on acoustic guitar, wrote the entire album at the piano: a Steinway Vertegrande from 1912 that had been owned by just one family.
The Brooklyn-based Arthur found himself writing song after song, based around the idea of family in general.
“The songs are sung from the perspective of different characters, both male and female, both child and adult, in different times in history. World War II factors in heavily to the story, but for me it was always just about war right now — the loss we all have right now. That’s why I let it surround the main story, which is the way family dynamics shape us and make us who we are,” explains Arthur.
“Nothing in this album comes from judgment. These are stories being told from different voices and mysterious times, which hopefully resonate with all the families everywhere.”
So, ‘When I Look At You’ comes from the perspective of “a mother looking at her son as she is dealing with losing her husband to the war”, while ‘Wishing Well’ is about hanging out at the mall during the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. “We’d spend hours with stolen twenties, playing Asteroids or Pac-man, smoking menthol cigarettes I stole from my mom, and joints we got any other kind of way,” remembers Arthur, “and looking at that freaky well in the centre of it all – the weird display of financial lunatic freedom, right in the middle of the celebration of capitalism that was wooing us to sleep through sticky treats and flashing lights.”