It’s always a surprise to come across someone for the first time who’s actually been making music for ages – in Simon Joyner’s case 17 years and as many albums, not so much because it’s new but more “why has nobody heard of this guy?”, as he fits as snugly into the Americana genre as you could wish. ‘Pocket Moon’ has eleven quiet, meditative songs that he half sings, half speaks in a manner that recalls both Townes van Zandt and Leonard Cohen, which can’t be bad. He has a way with imagery (see “your lover who flickered in a tea candle suit/on his catholic knees, a grape skin on his tooth” from ‘Tongue Of A Child’ or “the town of tears and tumbleweed” in ‘The Last Time I Saw You, Billy’) and the music lets the words breathe, hovering as it does somewhere between the most stripped back desert blues and mid-volume Cowboy Junkies.
From time to time the pace picks up on ‘You’re Running Away David’ and in particular the lilting ‘Yellow Jacket Blues’, with the latter also acquiring more instrumentation to contrast with the sparseness elsewhere. On such a consistent album it’s hard to pick a standout song but ‘Sean Foley’s Blues’ is perhaps the closest to quintessential Joyner, a sad, rich and wise song to someone who’s left and is never coming back. A quietly rewarding set.