I've always wondered how artists choose when to put out the self-titled album. Plenty of bands do it for their first release. Then there is Jerry Joseph, who, three decades into a career with multiple bands, including the Jackmormons, and an extensive back catalog, just released Jerry Joseph. It's composed of old songs newly arranged for him to accompany with acoustic guitar.
It's a satisfying collection, something like an old pro's bag of tricks. Joseph knows exactly how to use his voice: sometimes penitent, as on "Eat My Soul," sometimes bordering on braggadocio, as at the end of "Cochise," when he closes a song about the search for courage with, "On that day I will jump in the sea / and I'll finally be all you want me to be." He also expertly uses his guitar, varying tempo, rhythm and style so that the album never feels repetitive.
"Eat My Soul" is a highlight that uses restrained vocals mixed in with shambling guitar. Joseph sings, "Come on baby / set my table / and eat my soul." Listening to Jerry Joseph, with everything stripped away—no band, no other instruments, no title—is answering this plea. And it wouldn't mean as much without three decades behind it.
Jerry Joseph and the Jackmormons play the Top Hat Thu., Dec. 19 at 10 PM. $10/$8 advance.