Joseph Arthur Nuclear Daydream

Ever since 2000’s brilliant Come to Where I’m From, Akron, OH-based artist musician Joseph Arthur has been creating bright, thoughtful folk rock albums that have each improved on the one before them, but that somehow seemed to perpetually defy the man fame, even as the accolades poured in from critics and musicians alike. That said, it’s a shame that Arthur’s fifth full-length and major label debut, Nuclear Daydream, is such a tepid and unfocused effort; with so much outstanding material waiting to be discovered in his back catalogue, it’s doubtful this disc will inspire many new fans to go digging. The lead track, "Too Much to Hide,” is a pleasant but forgettable mid-tempo pop offering that features Arthur’s breathy multi-layered vocals drifting over an easy-going piano and guitar shuffle. This early tone is quickly shattered, however, by the ponderously bad "Enough To Get Away,” in which cheap, grating synth production lays bare poorly delivered, uninteresting lyrics. While standout tracks such as "You Are Free” and "Electrical Storm” hint at the exultant spirituality of 2002’s Redemption’s Son and the brooding introspection of Come to Where I’m From, retrospectively, it feels like Arthur is going through the motions here, regurgitating past successes in hopes that lightning will strike twice. Unsurprisingly, it does not. (Sony BMG)