Though less well-known on our side of the pond, Jerry Joseph is a hugely respected songwriter, championed by the likes of Jason Isbell and Patterson Hood of Drive By Truckers. Indeed the Truckers are such fans of his work that Hood has produced Joseph’s upcoming album and the band have backed him on the new record. Today, we’re announcing that the new album ‘The Beautiful Madness’ will drop on 21st August on Decor Records and we’re celebrating with this fabulous video premiere of ‘Days of Heaven’.
‘The Beautiful Madness’ is not only produced by Patterson Hood but he also wrote the liner notes for Jerry’s first proper European release. It is Jerry’s unapologetic manifesto on “what in the hell is going on with the world written with concern only for shining a light on the truth. Sometimes he can hit you with a sledgehammer but usually it’s a slowburn, building with each line of vivid and raw lyrics as the truth of his stories are revealed.” The album was recorded at Matt Patton’s studio, Dial Back Sound, in Water Valley, Mississippi with the Stiff Boys aka all the Drive-By Truckers backing him up on the music for every song. It was also the first time the Truckers recorded with Jason Isbell since he left the band in 2007, Isbell playing slide guitar on the searing ballad ‘Dead Confederate’, which Hood says is “one of the best songs about prejudice and racial hatred that I have ever heard.
The album runs the whole gamut of Jerry’s songwriting from heavy ballads to rolling upbeat alt-country tunes to his darker than dark epic and brooding ‘Sugar Smacks’ which sees no stone left unturned on his take of the modern #metoo world. He also pays tribute to David Bowie on ‘Black Star Line’ written around the first time he saw him in 1974 on the Diamond Dogs tour. ‘The Beautiful Madness’ was written in Mexico, Marin Country, CA and South Africa, a small example of where Jerry’s wanderlust has led him. Jerry has spent years travelling the world’s more far-flung, under-explored locales and has experienced firsthand the power of music to unify. This understanding inspired him to found NOMAD Music Foundation, a non-profit to provide music and instruments to children in war zones. He has travelled to Kurdistan and Afghanistan, where he has donated guitars to teenagers in refugee camps, giving them lessons and hope along the way.
The song which we’re premiering today, album opener ‘Days of Heaven’ builds into a driving exploration of yearning nostalgia. This feeling is reinforced by the ‘found’ video footage interspersed with a recording of a live performance. “‘Days of Heaven’ is taken from the title from a film I hadn’t seen in 30 years.” explains Jerry. “I wrote it in El Sauzal, Mexico. It’s about dealing with marriage or long term relationships, the extreme high and lows and, more interestingly, the middle of marriages. Patterson Hood came up with the bridge, a whole cinematic prairie goodness that actually makes the song and lines, and makes me cry when I sing it. We cut it with the Truckers in three takes.” It’s some performance. Joseph’s characterful vocal is buoyed by Drive By Truckers on top form. Lyrically beautiful and personal, this showcases Joseph’s ability to craft a fine song. And in these strange times, it’s nice to absorb something joyful, uplifting and to hear someone sing out loud that, “These are the days of heaven.”