Joseph Arthur’s music has never been more relevant than it is now. You might say the single, “Travel As Equals”, off the resplendent 24-song double-disc “Redemption City”, is the clarion call for the new record. It would be presumptuous of me to try to completely nail down this song’s meaning or message, stripping it of its wingéd beauty, because music is often such a solitary, personal thing. But one thing is certain, you may listen to this song in the cloistered confines of your bedroom, but it’s meant to unify people.
There’s no greater cause or calling for music. The hypnotic tempo of Arthur’s vocals, the constant thump of the bass drum, and the lush choral harmonies act as a surge of communal feeling — the lyrics damning, yet gracious. “Travel As Equals” is the perfect combination of clarity and uncompromising songwriting: “And when we get to where we’re going / Passes divide, past the stall / Past the wind that’s always blowing / Travel as equals or not at all … / So help me to end my slumber / If I’m blind in madness hall / If I’m deaf amongst the thunder / Travel as equals or not at all / Lift the wave / Forget the ransom / Free the chain / Kick the ball / Let our love take us higher / Travel as equals or not at all.” This record is paved with sage one-liners, elegant musical contours and alleyways. Words and phrases reflect off each other with a rapidity, like quick shots of sunlight glistening off the varied angles of a piece of quartz. Listen to Arthur’s musical tales of romance, freedom, kaleidoscopic narratives, philosophical protests with lyrical diamonds hovering on the surface, and you’ll find hues and tinctures in the undertow that are just as magnetic.
Do yourself a favor and designate a couple of hours, turn the music up, and just listen. Start with the new video for “Travel As Equals” below. It’s the first track off “Redemption City”. The ambition of this record is staggering. Note: Photo from artist’s facebook page, taken by Myriam Santos. Read a Their Bated Breath full review of “Redemption City” here. Song lyrics referenced in this post are unofficial. — David D. Robbins Jr.