Simon Joyner writes 'em like Bob Dylan, Townes Van Zandt, Neil Young, and Leonard Cohen used to, unapologetically reaching for--and occasionally grasping--profundity. His lyrics conjure a world where love is an uncertain refuge from a tragic past of biblical proportions and a future that promises more of the same. The Omaha native's fifth and latest album, Yesterday Tomorrow and In Between (Sing, Eunuchs!) is his darkest work to date. It's also his most ambitious and cohesive: each of the double album's first three sides (though available on CD, it's structured according to the temporal mandates of vinyl) begins with three or four aching pleas for redemption, then moves on to an unblinking contemplation of suicide and its aftermath. But by the end of "The Passenger," a round written to the tune of "Goodnight Irene" that runs the length of side four, Joyner has concluded, like Camus on Sisyphus, that the struggle is the whole point. His previous records have been stark, home-recorded affairs, but the band of Chicagoans that played on Yesterday Tomorrow and In Between achieves an uncluttered sound that recalls Dylan's Blood on the Tracks. Some of these musicians have backed him during recent performances, but for this concert Joyner will perform alone. He opens for the irrepressible Mountain Goats, whose appearance celebrates the imminent release of Protein Source of the Future...Now! on local indie Ajax. Sunday, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600. BILL MEYER
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Marty Perez.