Joseph Arthur & The Lonely AstronautsLet's Just Be
Essential: "Good Life"
The warning came when Arthur, a songwriting master who often works alone, raved about recording 80 tunes with his band, the Lonely Astronauts. Were going to put out two albums this year, he told interviewers. As the laws of quantitative rockology (see: Adams, Ryan) have taught us, more is usually less. And Lets Just Be is no exception. Clocking in at almost 80 minutes, what the record needed was a villainous record company wonk demanding cuts. Those hoping for a disc that matches 2006s stunning Nuclear Daydream or my favorite Arthur album, 2002s Redemptions Son, will be disappointed. Arthur has checked his Nick Drake at the studio door. Hes thrilled to have a band, and not about to waste it on brooding meditations of love and loss. Hes also proud to have recorded with few, if any, overdubs, the ultimate buzzkill in the jam-band universe. Fair enough. But the result is a wildly uneven record. As youre drowning in the dreck at 20 minutes and 33 seconds, Lonely Astronaut, which invokes the worst of Primus, the Doors, and Dave Matthews, is a prime offender its easy to lose sight of the deliciously danceable title track and the electric-guitar groove of the records opening tracks, Diamond Ring and Good Life. [Geoff Edgers] Joseph Arthur & the Lonely Astronauts play at the Middle East Downstairs tomorrow night.