Back to roots for Jerry Joseph

In recent years it has seemed like every time Jerry Joseph comes through Missoula, he’s sporting some combination of a new story, a new album, a new persona, a new band. The only previously reliable constant: an elaborate new press kit, the better to explain the transformations that have occurred since last the Portland-based man of many muses mounted a stage in our fair town.

Next Thursday, the one-time Montana resident returns again, sporting a new record, new press photos, an elaborate new Web site. The one thing curiously missing: Not a word from him or his promoters about the show. I just happened to notice a listing buried in the calendar for the Other Side.

Lacking a full-length copy of his new record, “Charge,” it’s hard to give a full accounting of Joseph’s newest artistic iteration; but it’s clear from the few samples up on his Web site that this seven-song EP marks a return to familiar territory for Joseph. After recent forays into adventurous jam-band exoticism with the band Stockhold Syndrome and edgy alt-rock with the group Denmark Veseys, Joseph is back to exploring the still-fertile territory of grim Americana.

The title track of the new record is a nervously shuffling rumbler full of the kind of rough-hewn apocolyptica that fans have grown to expect from Joseph: Body counts and benedictions, neighborhood messiahs and “St. John the Divine.” (The song can be heard via the embedded player at Joseph’s Web site.)

Working with Denmark Veseys collaborator Steve Drizos and Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter Bret Mosley, Joseph recorded the new album on vintage equipment at Old Soul Studio in Catskill, NY, allegedly sticking to a live, group-play approach and first-take vocals. From what I can hear of the album, the approach paid off in gritty, rough-around-the-edges performances that befit the lyrical and musical content of the songs.

Having stepped back into the groove of previous releases such as “Mouthful of Copper,” Joseph is also back to touring with another of his backing bands, the Jackmormons. They’ll stop in Missoula next Thursday, March 19, at the Other Side.

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