If you listen to the supposed experts of the media and didn't care for Jimmy Buffett, you would miss this album completely and that would not be good for you or Josh Joffen. What with the competition for time and formats these days, those experts give us seven seconds to make up our minds before clicking on. Seven seconds! It takes me that long to click the remote! But I digress. While Joffen could easily have packed his new album with Buffett-style island music, he doesn't. Sure, Postcard From Antigua (the title track) has that laid back easy flow that Buffett has been living off of for some 40 years and, hey, Joffen does a good job on it, but I don't believe he could have handed us a complete album of just island music even if he wanted to. See, Josh Joffen is as much a student of the folk idiom as he is a musician. It's obvious.
He is a tad bit more of a folkie than a singer/songwriter, if that means anything. He wraps his songs around the genre like he was born to it, using modern folk and even traditional twists to make a point. The Girl From the Great Divide, for instance, leans toward Scottish and Irish folk music, Liberty's Song has an early Gordon Lightfoot/Tom Paxton bent (and even a touch of The Kingston Trio, though that might be more my rediscovery of the music of my youth than reality), and Rulers of the Sea brings back the feel if not the exact sound of Schooner Fare on some of their tunes. If you want laid back, he places and shows with The Wall and Only For One Night, the former a look at Jerusalem's Wall, the latter a song for the lonely. I say place and show because the real winner to my ears is The Fool, a song which could have come out of the Modern Folk period of the mid- to late-sixties, a simple look at how truth is not always easy to see and yet is. Songs like this were Hootenanny showstoppers back in the days when folk ruled the music world.
Joffen has a touch. He writes from many angles and weaves his visions with folk structures which at times belie the fact that they were written in today's world and not that of the past. It doesn't hurt that he has a pleasing voice, either. No scratchy old vinyl texture here. His voice is smooth and unwavering except when it counts (and it counts a lot).
I see a really good future for Josh Joffen. In music, at least (God only knows what his future would be on Wall Street or selling real estate). He has talent enough to go in any direction he wants. Judging from the songs on Postcard From Antigua, I have a feeling we will get more of the same and even better. At this point, he doesn't need to grow, but I think he will. The music takes musicians like Joffen where it will and after hearing this, I think he is in for a long, long ride. Hopefully, it will be as much fun for him as it is sure to be for us.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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