Review – Joseph Huber’s “Bury Me Where I Fall”

November 22, 2010 - By Trigger  //  Reviews  //  23 Comments

Wow. What a shot out of the dark this album is. I know Joe’s intention might have been to create a simple side project, but he created another “must have” album in a year that has been packed with them.

It might be easy to gloss over just how good of a songwriter Joseph Huber is from his work with the .357 String Band. The break neck nature of their music tends to make your brain focus on the energy instead of the enigmatic lyricism and above average song structuring. But slow the songs down and you can see it, and that is exactly what Joe has done with Bury Me When I Fall.

The blurb for this album describes it better than I ever could…

The 1st solo album from .357 String Band’s Joseph Huber reveals a new side; a brooding, & introspective side in the spirit of Townes Van Zandt or Leonard Cohen. Weary & burdened, yet also joyfully defiant. Each song offers a new sound & way of seeing.

The blurb however sets some lofty challenges. There may be no hotter, and more revered songwriter in all of music right now than the deceased-for-over-a-decade Townes Van Zandt. What some of the bandwagoner Townes fans don’t understand is that in his short life, Townes was a rather obscure, and commercially unsuccessful artist, and when they put him in the studio and tried to produce him, they came away with very mixed reviews, including from Townes himself. Now Townes studio sound has taken on a life of its own.

Huber does a superb job learning from those Townes albums without aping them; using the stripped down style to not distract from the soul of a song, adding a lonesome tambourine for rhythm, and shading everything in a sepia, solemn shade that doesn’t make you hear the song, but feel it.

As slow and sad as these songs are, this album isn’t a downer to listen to, and doesn’t solely rely on its artistic nature for appeal. It may take a few listens for your music brain to settle into the right gear, but after that, there are some songs that are highly addictive.

“Bury Me Where I Fall” let’s you know right off the bat what you’re dealing with here: slow, soul-stirring almost dirge-like compositions that rip at your chest. “Bell On A Rope” might be the best song on the album. All this Townes talk aside, this song reminds me of old school Neil Young with the harmonica, or even Old Crow Medicine Show before their more “mature” approach. At first I was worried this song was too long. After a few listens, you can’t get enough of the turn from bright to dark chords and the heart wrenching theme delivered in a hard-to-define song structure, compelling you to re-rack the song over an over.

“Slow Death March” takes the solemnness to another level, slowing and stripping down the music even more, as does “Death Cruel Shadow, Be My Shade.” The way the rhythm leaves the room when Joe begins to sing really tugs at your emotions as much as music can. The song also reveals Huber’s excellent hand with the guitar, while his love for fiddle bleeds gently in the background.

And if you’re going to throw around names like Townes and Leonard Cohen, you better bring some serious lyricism. Most of these songs rely more on mood than words, but “Can’t You See A Flood’s A-Comin'” is as good of a song lyrically as any, by anyone.

In an interview on Outlaw Radio Chicago Episode 120, Joe talked about how he’s wanted to put this album out for a few years, but never got it to sound right until he bought some recording equipment himself and set up a studio in a closet. He played every note on this album. Refined ears will appreciate the homespun sound that was the result, and overlook a few production flubs, or even find them endearing.

I wasn’t able to get into the song “Better Than Before,” and “Downtime” is good, but seemed slightly out of place. Maybe it would be a better fit as a change of pace with .357. But I really like the fact there’s only 9 songs here. Not really any fat to trim on this record, and part of its appeal is it draws such contrast to what Joe does with .357 String Band. Usually I’m for more music than less, but drawing it out to 12 songs or so would make it lose it’s biting edge caused by the change in pace and style. And despite it’s dark nature, it is fairly accessible. Singer/songwriter lovers will find appeal in the approach and instrumentation, but it’s dark enough to appeal to the punk/metal people, and even the Gothic crowd.

Bury Me Where I Fall challenges the ear, it’s smart without being pretentious, and sets Joe up as so much more than just a superpicking banjo player. It was Joe’s blazing banjo first. The it was Joe’s songwriting on Saving Country Music’s 2008 Album of the Year, Fire & Hail. Then it was his unexpected fiddlework on .357’s last album Lightning From The North. And now this. With each new project, Joseph Huber continues to reveal himself as a multi-tool talent, a studious worker, and worthy of top tier recognition as a musician AND a songwriter within the underground roots movement.

Two guns up!

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You can purchase and preview tracks for Bury Me Where I Fall on Amazon.

Physical copies are also available by paypal-ing $12.00 to josephhubermusic at gmail. com. You can also purchase on CD Baby.

23 Comments to “Review – Joseph Huber’s “Bury Me Where I Fall””

  • Great review for a great record. The first time I listened to it I had goose bumps that’s how deep it got into my soul.

  • I’m definitely going to pick this one up. I’ve admired Joe Huber’s songwriting since first discovering .357, and especially since “Days Engrave” on their new album. I really like what I’ve heard of this so far, almost a creepy Irish feel to it. And I mean creepy in the best way! Thanks for the review Triggerman.

    • Downloading it now…

  • This is some great music here man

  • this is a seriously strong album, so different than i would’ve expected but in the best way possible. “riddler’s song” is my favorite right now, and “flood’s a- coming” but in my opinion they’re all good. to me “better than before” sounds like a better fit with .357 than “downtime” which i think is a pretty damn good song too, makes me think Scott H. Biram, which is always good. i hope he can find a way to tour behind this one, i’d love to hear these songs in person. great album.

    • Yeah, I’d love to see these songs live too. He did do a few shows in the upper Midwest, I think a couple opening for Hellbound Glory, and one maybe for Bob Wayne. He talked about it on the Outlaw Radio interview, about how he was doing it kind of one man band style, but wants to get a few players to back him up and do it more singer/songwriter style.

  • Great review Trig! I am a huge fan of the album as well. Everyone go buy it!

  • I’m not much for “solo” efforts, but from the teasers I heard at Bury Me Where I Fall on Amazon ,Wow, I like what I heard…big time. Thanks.

    • I hear ya. A lot of times the solo stuff comes across either as an afterthought, or a self-indulgent ego stroke. This one doesn’t have that feel at all. He took a long time to make this album, saved up songs for years, and then only put nine of them on the album. There’s a lot of quality here.

  • i got to see him live in a small dim bar with a suitcase as his drum…..definately a highlight in my life

    • Twas an awesome show that night…

  • I’m so glad he got into the closet and gave this album a voice. Great blog Triggerman.

  • I’m not sure I understood from the interview- Was the cover art a black and white picture that was painted over?

    Great artist, album, interview and review.

    • The way I understood it, that was the effect he was going for, but he used Photoshop to make the actual picture. They used to take black and white photos and paint them to make them color. That was the style he was looking for.

      Probably worth mentioning too that Joseph is a visual artist as well.

  • “I wasn’t able to get into the song ‘Better Than Before’ “. I agree it stands out as different from most of the rest of the album, but I think it’s a great song. I love the fiddle in it. What’s not to like? It struck me as one of the most instantly likable songs on the album. Crook was right about “Downtime” sounding like Scott H. Biram. Add a little accent and distortion to the voice and it could almost be him.

    AWESOME album. Finding great music like this is what’s great about this site. Thanks Triggerman.

    • I didn’t say there’s nothing to like, just that I couldn’t get into it, personally. I don’t think it’s a bad song. There’s a big difference to me between bad and “not able to get into it.” I think what makes it tough for me is it sounds like a few other songs that I’ve heard and liked over the years, and it didn’t feel as fresh as the rest of the album. In fact it reminds me some of Joe’s “You Better Run” with .357.

      Every album is going to have things to pick at. This one had less than most.

  • Haven’t been able to stop listening to this since I bought it yesterday. I can’t say I’m surprised, but MAN is it good!

  • I’ve already commented on this review and this album, but I just can’t get over how good this is! Joe recorded this the same way I’ve recorded everything I’ve ever done (maybe with a nicer machine, but still at home in a closet playing all the instruments himself). The melodies, instrumentation, and quality are inspiring. This record makes me want to be a better musician myself. You can close your eyes and let the music wash over you, and it takes you somewhere. I’m starting to sound cheesy now, but I feel like this came out of nowhere, and it’s bringing me a lot of joy. Perfect music for a snowy morning.

  • Great album Joe…I love jacked up music…but it is so refreshing to listen to something and relax…feels like a breath of fresh air

  • […] Huber – Bury Me Where I Fall – (review) – Excellent late-season addition from someone emerging as a premier musician AND songwriter […]

  • Just listened to it in full for the first time. Amazing. Unreal almost. Music is best when you can relate, and these songs reflect my thoughts to a tee right now.

  • I have finally picked up this album (well most of it…) and it is unbelievably good. I can’t really decide what is my favorite track, but “Death, Cruel Shadow, Be My Shade” might be the classic among classics on this album. I would have to think that that song would make a fan out of anyone.

    • “Death, Cruel Shadow..” was also one of my favorites. I just got the album not too long ago also but I was amazed. All of the Townes references are very fitting for him. I woulda voted it my favorite of the year.

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