Let's Just Be

Let's Just Be

Let’s Just Be is a great big classic-rock mess, and while fans of Joseph Arthur’s more delicate chamber-pop moments might need to make a few mental adjustments, the mercurial singer-songwriter proves himself as adept with scruff and sprawl as he was with sturm und brood. The leather-pants musical references fly fast and furious, from Exile on Main Street-era Stones (the raucous yet radio-friendly “Diamond Ring”) to self-consciously trashy takes on glam rock via T. Rex and David Bowie (“Spacemen,” with its gorgeous harmonies and fuzzed-out guitars). The handclap-spiked dance groove of the title song even works in a twofer with its hoarse chorus: “Let it bleed, let it be.” In some ways, the change is all for the good. The music has lost the airless quality of his one-man band days, and its relaxed, spontaneous vibe captures the energy of Arthur’s live shows. But the accompanying studio foolery—snippets of conversations, laughter, even some very loud fake snoring—feels like eavesdropping on someone else’s party. Let’s Just Be is Arthur’s second album in eight months; self-editing might not be such a bad idea when he comes down off his creative high.

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