Songs from a Stolen Guitar is an absolute career highlight for Omaha-based singer-songwriter Simon Joyner.
Available this Friday through Grapefruit Records, this album finds Joyner in a deeply subdued mood. Each song glows softly with a hushed yet warm atmosphere, as if you’re listening in on a private late-night living room rehearsal.
The entire record has a somber pastoral sound that evokes a dreamy southwest evening, with dusty acoustic and slide guitar (with lead guitar work by the great David Nance), vibes and gentle percussion (provided by our drumming hero, Ryan Jewell) perfectly matching the arid and wistful qualities of Joyner’s subtle vocals.
The lyrics on this LP are vivid and raw, rich with poetic descriptions of broken dreams and the disillusionment of adult life. This is especially true on “Tekamah,” which tells the story of a girl who tried to make it far from home, but was kicked around one too many times by the city she tried to survive in. By the start of the tune, she’s lying in bed with a drunkard that fills her with regret, and she is ready to go back to her home of Tekamah, to see the comforting beauty of her “cottonwoods in the sunrise.”
Similarly, the opening cut, “Caroline’s Got a Secret,” finds the titular character dreaming of home, where her azaleas attract hummingbirds and butterflies from the darkness of the shade they thrive in. There’s a palpable lonesomeness and longing that saturates this and most of the other songs on the record, which Joyner absolutely drives home with his reserved Stephan Malkmus-meets-Lou Reed style of singing.
For an intimate and melancholic record that finds common ground with the likes of Leonard Cohen, Townes Van Zandt and John Cale, give Songs from a Stolen Guitar a listen today.