Joseph Arthur - The Graduation Ceremony (2011) [FLAC]

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01) "Out on a Limb"
02) "Horses"
03) "Almost Blue"
04) "Someone to Love"
05) "Watch our Shadows Run"
06) "This Is Still My World"
07) "Over the Sun"
08) "Face in the Crowd"
09) "Midwest"
10) "Gypsy Faded"
11) "Call"
12) "Love Never Asks You to Lie"

With The Graduation Ceremony, Joseph Arthur, the troubadour of digital age folk-pop, contributes to the upper echelon of great break-up albums. Like DylanΓÇÖs Blood on the Tracks, BeckΓÇÖs Sea Change and the Afghan WhigsΓÇÖ Gentlemen, ArthurΓÇÖs effort treats the devastation of a failed relationship with maturity rather than mopey self-pity. Sure, there is a healthy dose of woe-is-me self-loathing, but itΓÇÖs tempered by ArthurΓÇÖs chronicling of every stage of the emotional fallout with unflinching honestyΓÇödenial, anger, despair, and begrudging acceptance.

Opener ΓÇ£Out on a LimbΓÇ¥ sets the tone of the song cycle perfectly. The pastiche of a delicately plucked guitar, whispery vocals and sparse piano is the sound of the sucker-punch of a being dumped, the bargaining both with oneself and the former significant other to end the internal desolation. ΓÇ£Fading memories/Blame us too/But thatΓÇÖs alright,ΓÇ¥ Arthur sings, summing up the sadomasochistic pull to hang onto the past despite the inherent pain.

Arthur frequently eschews obscurity and metaphor for direct termsΓÇöΓÇ£You betrayed me/You were the only one/I let insideΓÇ¥ he sings in a hair-thin falsetto in ΓÇ£Watch Our Shadows Run,ΓÇ¥ while in ΓÇ£Over the Sun,ΓÇ¥ he bemoans, ΓÇ£When I cheat on you/YouΓÇÖre still all I see,ΓÇ¥ shouldering the blame he elsewhere casts onto his ex. Such candor does not come across as lazy, but as cathartic and necessary.

ArthurΓÇÖs trademark conjuring of subtle melodies and lush arrangements from simple instrumentation remains intact. The layering of electric and acoustic guitars, drum loops, strings and keys creates harmonious soundscapes, where noisy competition would have arose in a lesser musicianΓÇÖs hands.

The final trio of songs displays the push toward acceptance. ΓÇ£Gypsy Faded,ΓÇ¥ arguably the star song here, finds Arthur sing-speaking out of step with the warm musical backing, addressing both his and his former loverΓÇÖs faults, while also forgiving them. ΓÇ£I do however want to say that I wish you the best/past the anger of betrayal and the need to second guess.ΓÇ¥ Clearly, some time has passed here and heΓÇÖs viewing the relationship in a rearview mirror, the implication being that heΓÇÖs driving forward. ΓÇ£I donΓÇÖt feel you anymoreΓÇ¥ he sings in the bridge, completing the connection to DylanΓÇÖs ΓÇ£Idiot Wind.ΓÇ¥

Follower ΓÇ£CallΓÇ¥ catches Arthur in the last brief relapse, desperately hoping his ex will call, while conscious that such contact is not in his best interest. In closer ΓÇ£Love Never Asks You Lie,ΓÇ¥ Arthur shuts the door on the turmoil heΓÇÖs endured; itΓÇÖs no coincidence the album gleans its title from this song. HeΓÇÖll retain some sentimental affection for his ex, but recognizes without bitterness that he and she simply were not good for one another. ItΓÇÖs no oneΓÇÖs fault; itΓÇÖs just the way it is.		
Joseph Arthur - The Graduation Ceremony (2011) [FLAC]/01 Out on a Limb.flac 21.147 MB
Joseph Arthur - The Graduation Ceremony (2011) [FLAC]/02 Horses.flac 24.945 MB
Joseph Arthur - The Graduation Ceremony (2011) [FLAC]/03 Almost Blue.flac 28.713 MB
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