Critic's Choice

A sort of creepy troubadour who's steeped in melancholia and art-folk tradition, Joseph Arthur, Wednesday, January 22, at the Fox Theatre, sings songs that are personal and also incredibly murky. With lines like "You're a rapist and your only victim/You're a fact and you're fiction" (from "History," off of 2000's Come to Where I'm From), the listener feels a sense of despair without really knowing what the singer's talking about. Though rooted in the hoary tradition of minor-key singer/guitar players like Leonard Cohen, Arthur shows a decided antipathy toward doing things traditionally. Working with Peter Gabriel on his Real World label in the early '90s nurtured Arthur's experimentalism: His seemingly straightforward songs always surprise with various layers of unexpected sounds. And he might just be cheering up a little. 2002's Redemption's Son suggests that while he may not have resorted to Paxil yet, he's not quite as apt to put a gun to his head.


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