Friends, I am feeling a bit insufferably proud of my self, just now.
It seems I got in at just the right time to talk to Joe Fletcher, who is now an unquestionably Big Deal in the folk music world.
“To fans of folk’s darker side, Joe Fletcher’s You’ve Got the Wrong Man should come as a bracing breath of fresh air–or if not “fresh” than “intriguingly dusty,” like the atmosphere in a junk store full of beat-up old treasures.”
Joe realized his ambition of moving down to Nashville, last year. He’s been touring like crazy up and down the east coast, and just got back from another sojourn out to California.
With, it shall be noted, a stop at my favorite hometown venue, San Diego’s Soda Bar. I wasn’t there, but the photos sent thrills of joy through my little Cali heart.
You’ll know all this if you’re among his…let’s see, how many is he up to now?…5309 followers on Instagram.
“The non-produced, self-made quality is real, raw and unvarnished which perfectly reflects these crusty nuggets about broken down and busted motels, relationships and people.”
Last summer saw him slaying audiences from the Americana Music Festival (where his act was shortlisted by Rolling Stone) to Way Over Yonder on Santa Monica Pier. He’s headlining alongside Langhorne Slim for the upcoming Wildwood Music Festival.
He’s opened shows for Jason Isbell, The Devil Makes Three, and Lucero.
“It’s the lyrics that get you, the complexities of which are sometimes hidden by the musical styling. They paint the sort of deep portraits of American life many songwriters allude to but which few accomplish. There’s darkness down there, but with it humor and, absolutely, a damn good time.”
While the last record was inspirationally earnest and full of fist-to-the-sky emotion, this one sees the underlying snarl of Joe’s music hardened into something darker and more dangerous, all the more so for their pulled-back, tight-leashed delivery.
My favorite cuts are “Haint Blue Cadillac” and “The Wilsons,” both as sinister as a skeleton’s grin and devilish as moonshine brewed in a bathtub, backboned by an inexorable groove. His guitar chops are at a new level–a bluesy versatility is creeping in that reminds me of Jack White, or would, if it weren’t so pulled back. Where some bluesmen go full throttle with their licks as soon as possible, Joe’s have the sly restraint that keeps you breathlessly hooked and leaves you begging for more.
“Heart in a Mousetrap” brings the relief of sweet balladry to this gorgeously grim lineup of tunes. And it wouldn’t be a Joe Fletcher record if it didn’t have the literary references sneaked in, or at least one good multi-voice singalong chorusing–you get both in “I Never (Reprise).”
Finally, the record includes one great driving song–“Highway Roulette,” the penultimate cut–which sounds the way it feels to ramble through a tree-lined back road on an unseasonably warm day in fall.
Oh…and here’s that teaser video you wanted.