Though time had passed since his Real World apprenticeship, the Peter Gabriel influence looms larger than ever on Joseph Arthur's third release. In particular, Redemption's Son achieves a sophisticated marriage of traditional songwriting craft and avant-garde production, a combination that guides Gabriel's best work as well. The singer/songwriter foundation is clearer with Arthur, however; many of these tracks grow from a bedrock of acoustic guitar and vocals, with gauzy electronics shimmering across the surface rather than glistening within the fabric of the tune. Aside from a few inspired images, such as his admission that "I've been so happy being unhappy with you" in "Favorite Girl," Arthur's writing is steady and workmanlike; by giving prominent position to lines like "I wish I could follow you to the shore of freedom," from "Honey and the Moon," he tends to build in the verses toward slightly disappointing resolutions in the choruses. Even so, the sonic range achieved on these tracks, ranging from a filmy folk-rock evocation on "Dear Lord" to the collision of "Strawberry Fields" Mellotron and Duane Eddy twang on "I Would Rather Hide," suggests that Arthur may have even more promise as a producer than as an artist in years to come.
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