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in love with the new joe purdy album

June 29, 2010
Joe Purdy

Photo by William Snyder

I’ve been eagerly awaiting Joe Purdy’s new album 4th of July since I saw a few of his live shows last winter. He played a lot of new material on that tour and I’ve been dying to hear it again for the past six months.

If you aren’t familiar with singer-songwriter Joe Purdy, you need to be. His voice is one of my all time favorites – warm and weary, and like all great folksingers before him, filled with story. It’s a cowboy round a campfire, it’s a homesick soldier, it’s a summer romance, it’s a voyaging traveler – it slides easily into the individual personas of his deftly crafted characters.

4th of July is Purdy’s 11th album, and is, like his others, independently recorded and released. Despite his lack of studio backing, Purdy has achieved a strong grassroots fan base, augmented by some national broadcast placements. His music has appeared on hit shows Grey’s Anatomy, House, and Lost, in the feature film The Secret Life of Bees, and in a couple of national commercial spots.  His live performances, while not as often as I’d like, are generally sell-out events at fantastically intimate venues.

4th of July, like many of his previous albums, has a strong thematic narrative. Since moving back to his native Arkansas a few years ago, his songs have shifted from stories of the big cities: L.A., New York, Paris – to the romantic nostalgia of rural America.  The song “Diamond State” is something of an homage to his home turf.  “The Ballplayer” tells the story of a broken down minor league baseball star. And “Angelina,” Purdy’s own “Excitable Boy,” weaves a dark tale of small-town obsession and murder.

The music is starkly simple, often just Purdy accompanying himself on piano or strumming acoustic guitar. Each of his songs is a self contained short-story, lyrically intricate and beautifully delivered.

I can only hope that a tour announcement will eventually accompany this album release…

Vinyl LP’s and CD’s will be available soon, for now 4th of July is available for digital download through iTunes or directly from Purdy’s website. You can also stream all of Purdy’s albums through his site.

musicnotesAngelina” – this song has haunted me since I heard him play it on the winter tour. Fabulous.

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