An endlessly insightful rabble-rouser and resonantly skilled musician, for more than 30 years Jerry Joseph has been strapping on a guitar and wrestling with a world full of paradox – war and disaster, hope and faith. He first rose to prominence in the mid-1980s with still-beloved cult band Little Women, a reggae-rock proto-jam band that dominated the Rocky Mountain club scene for nearly a decade. Releasing nearly an album a year since, Joseph refuses to rehash the past, keeping him creatively honest and making him the archetypal musician’s musician, something resoundingly clear on his sweeping new double album, Happy Book.
Backed by longtime musical companions the Jackmormons, Happy Book (arriving March 20, 2012 on Response Records) presents the band at their most diverse and confident, a record with a wide swing that dexterously moves from whisper closeness to Technicolor expansiveness. Many of the songs on Happy Book were written in Mexico right after Joseph’s father passed away but then left wide-open so the band could be part of the writing process, producing an emotional and sonic wallop fueled by the tightest, tastiest playing Joseph (guitar, lead vocals), JR Ruppel (bass, backing vocals) and Steve Drizos (drums, backing vocals) have ever captured in the studio.
Enlisting former Little Women percussionist Gregg Williams as producer(Dandy Warhols, Blitzen Trapper) Happy Book also incorporates horns and other choice elements from guests Jenny Conlee-Drizos and Chris Funk (The Decemberists), Eric Earley (Blitzen Trapper), Dan Eccles (Richmond Fontaine), Wally Ingram, Little Sue Weaver and Paul Brainard into the trio’s tight-knit chemistry to create an expansive work that captures Joseph’s startlingly broad musical range in a roughly graceful, swiftly intoxicating way.
As 2012 gets rolling, Joseph is steadily extending his global reach, Happy Book being the perfect introduction to audiences that have yet to discover one of the most striking, talented musicians of the past quarter century.