An endlessly insightful rabble-rouser and resonantly skilled musician, for more than
30 years Jerry Joseph has been strapping on a guitar and wrestling with a world full
of paradox – war and disaster, hope and faith. He first rose to prominence in the
mid-1980s with still-beloved cult band Little Women, a reggae-rock proto-jam
band that dominated the Rocky Mountain club scene for nearly a decade. Releasing
nearly an album a year since, Joseph refuses to rehash the past, keeping him
creatively honest and making him the archetypal musician’s musician, something
resoundingly clear on his sweeping new double album, Happy Book.
Backed by longtime musical companions the Jackmormons, Happy Book (arriving
March 20, 2012 on Response Records) presents the band at their most diverse
and confident, a record with a wide swing that dexterously moves from whisper
closeness to Technicolor expansiveness. Many of the songs on Happy Book were
written in Mexico right after Joseph’s father passed away but then left wide-open so
the band could be part of the writing process, producing an emotional and sonic
wallop fuelled by the tightest, tastiest playing Joseph (guitar, lead vocals), JR
Ruppel (bass, backing vocals) and Steve Drizos (drums, backing vocals) have
ever captured in the studio.
Enlisting former Little Women percussionist Gregg Williams as producer (Dandy
Warhols, Blitzen Trapper) Happy Book also incorporates horns and other choice
elements from guests Jenny Conlee-Drizos and Chris Funk (The Decemberists),
Eric Earley (Blitzen Trapper), Dan Eccles (Richmond Fontaine), Wally Ingram,
Little Sue Weaver and Paul Brainard into the trio’s tight-knit chemistry to create
an expansive work that captures Joseph’s startlingly broad musical range in a
roughly graceful, swiftly intoxicating way.
As 2012 gets rolling, Joseph is steadily extending his global reach; Happy Book
being the perfect introduction to audiences that have yet to discover one of the
most striking, talented musicians of the past quarter century.