'Lets Just Be' gives the galloping horse of Joseph Arthur the free-rein to explore a more sonic side of his artistry...
Mark Perlaki

15:02 6th September 2007

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Enjoying a release on the same day as his stalwart 'Nuclear Daydream' album, 'Let’s Just Be' was recorded after a buzzing tour with Joseph Arthur's new band The Lonely Astronauts - comprising Kraig Jarret Johnson (Golden Smog, The Jayhawks), Jennifer Turner (Natalie Merchant), Greg Wieczorek (Twilight Singers) and Sibyl Buck (Champion Of Sound) and with all the hallmarks of the live sound, 'Let's Just Be' was conceived in just three weeks with the songs layed down in a back to basics approach using a 16-track tape with no reverb, just how the old boys used to do it, trailing rumours that over 80 songs were recorded during the sessions.

The band follow Joseph's meandering lead with alacrity - Stonesy affections shine through on the honky tonk rattle of 'Diamond Ring' with the Keif hooks, the bluesy rock 'n' roll chords of 'Precious Woman' and 'Chicago' shows the band at ease with the rhythms, but the doffing of the singer-songwriter cap on 'Take Me Home' and 'Lack A Vision' provides two of those spellbindingly mellow and tender Joseph Arthur moments that's amongst the best he's written.

Influences vary with the Bowie-esque 'Spacemen' like a Beatles 'White Album' track left in the hamster cage with Bowie's 'Ground Control To Major Tom', and the brass and swagger of 'Cocaine Feet' rips with power chords like Nirvana fronted by Bobby Gillespie, with title track 'Let's Just Be' taking a cue from The Beatles and The Stones - "...let it bleed/ and let it be..." set to a clap-happy groove.

Explorations of sound come with the Stoogey garage-punk of 'Good Life' replete with growls, snarls and piggy-snorts - rocking where previously Joseph would swoon, but the sqwalking unplugged proto-punk of 'Shake It Off' proves a pointless exercise, yet one of the titles of the year 'Cockteeze' packs the Iggy Pop credo and comes in at all of 1.46 minutes with Joseph screaming it out - "...I don't care what you want to believe...",

'Lonely Astronaut' is quite another matter - at all of 20.33 minutes and taking in the musical map of U.S.rock, 'Lonely Astronaut' starts as an atmospheric countrified-acoustic number "...here comes the rain/ falling down like ecstasy..." showing a Stonesy heart, picking up some Velvet's freneticism as it goes skidding across the sonic tarmac with what sounds like the sawing of a rubber tree (what would Led Zep make of all this) then heads for an experimentalist apocalyptic meltdown of tedious repetition that tests endurance, like Throbbing Gristle and The Velvets out of their boxes, before ending with a psyche-drenched acoustic melody. Like a prism, the experimentalism of 'Lonely Astronaut' could be viewed from so many angles - the recent Scott Walker release 'The Drift' a case in point, it depends on where you're coming from, but with the currents running through and the duration, the feeling is that it's like the very act of coitus itself - tender, chaotic, animalistic, and finally, loving.

Tailing off with vocal assistance from the band on 'Yer The Reason' and 'I Will Carry You', and concluding with Velvets/'The End' of The Doors-style denouement of 'Star Song' with mouth-organ drench and guitar tuned like a sitar, the feeling is already established that this is a flawed masterpiece - tripping in its' over-indulgence and sounding like there's too much sonic hash with the bacon and eggs, and that a more regal garment could have been cut by trimming the number of tracks. Joseph remains prolific in a way most artists would envy, and 'Let’s Just Be' gives the galloping horse of Joseph Arthur the free-rein to explore a more sonic side of his artistry.

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