Grass, Branch & Bone is Joyner's 13th album, a collection of rainy day ballads and late night ruminations so stripped down that at first it sounds like he's sing-talking almost atonally over his guitar. But then, sparse arrangements and subtle melodies seep out of the woodwork: the occasional restrained harmonica solo; appropriately scrape-y, evocative violin; dry yet resonant upright bass, brushed drums, the quietest of backup vocals; an entire song ("Train To Crazy Horse") punctuated by wind chimes.
The uninitiated can start with love song "You Got Under My Skin" — it has the most accessible melody and groove. Beyond that, Grass, Branch & Bone is about nostalgia and memory, people's relationships, death ("Jefferson Reed" is a dirge) and the call of the muse. The songs are blue and weary, but not entirely humourless. On seven-minute closer, "Nostalgia Blues," the speaker's in an argument with an old friend, who's jabbing at him: "You know he's playing the Sydney Opera House tonight, aren't y'all still sleeping on strangers' wooden floors?" It's followed by an under-the-breath "yes."
Joyner's poem-songs are worth lingering over. As it turns out, his idiosyncratic sandpaper tenor and low spacious guitar style are the perfect instruments through which to deliver them. (Woodsist)