Simon Joyner has been singing songs for around 17 years now so why have I never heard of him before?
Those in the business seem to more clued in. The press release comes with praise from Conor Obest and Gillian Welch and with plaudits like this, you'd be a fool to dismiss him without listening carefully.
Perhaps Joyner's lack of widespread recognition is down to the obtuse way with words which, at least on the strength of Pocket Moon, delve into the mystic rather than opening himself up to personal revelations.
The album was recorded in the 7-Track Shack in Arizona backed by six musicians know collectively as The Nervous Stars.
The poetic lyrics make a lot of references to animals, birds and insects and almost all of the songs pose questions that are geared more towards stimulating reveries than gaining information. For instance the singer wants to know "Who still believes in love? in Yellow Jacket Blues and in You Never Know (the opening track) he enquires meditatively <"What else are you gonna do with leaves but watch them fall?". In a bleaker vein, he asks "Are we only this decay?" on You're Running Away, David.
Unsurprisingly, like most of his ilk, this singer songwriter from Omaha, Nebraska has been compared to Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan and Townes Van Zandt. It's not hard to hear the influence of artists like these but there's enough originally to prove that Joyner is not just playing copycat here.
"Don't forget to read between the lines" says a friend reading a paperback edition of Hemingway (again in 'Yellow Jacket Blues') and this advice needs to be followed if you have any hope of unpacking Joyner's songs. Even then, you will likely draw a blank when confronted by an image like that of "A swallow tail shredding its wings against the side of this jar" which confronts the listener on Tongue of a Child.
Lines like these are delivered in the dour, expressionless voice of one accustomed to carrying burdens through life. Time and memory seem to be lingering themes throughout the eleven songs.
Coming full circle, the closing track - Blue Lullaby - ends with the same line as that of the opening tune: "Odds are someday I'll forget, but then again you never know".
This suggests that definitive meaning is as elusive as the moths, dragonflies, eagles coyotes and other creatures that help give this album a rich sense of place and mystery.
Simon Joyner at Bandcamp