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Love Songs from the Outskirts of Bliss

Jonathan Pointer

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Album Review

With his second record, Love Songs From the Outskirts of Bliss, Jonathan Pointer produces haunting portraits of love, self-doubt, and the passage time, all delivered with a wit, wisdom, and sense of craft and focus that sets him apart from the usual pack of singer/songwriters. Pointer's songs — dour yet droll, self-effacing yet confident — illustrate life's contradictions with candor and grace, whether caught up in self-examination, trying to mend a broken heart/home, or rationalizing the realizations of either. And while he'd like "a little adoration" from others, about the best he can muster on his own behalf is mere acceptance. Pointer will occasionally go for the big emotional moment, but more often than not he settles for the smaller ones, and it's these which leave the most lasting impressions. Musically, it's these same sorts of subtleties that create the perfect aural atmosphere for the material, which is primarily built around his understated, superb guitar. Every little touch, from the Kurt Weill-like violin, guitar, and accordion interplay of "Washington St." to ambient electric guitars, or even a ukelele solo, is always in the service of the song. Pointer owns a hoarse baritone that brings to mind early Tom Waits, whose influence is apparent on one of the album's best tracks, the carney-inspired "Arcadia," with it's cast of sideshow freaks and whores. But it's another similarity to Waits that helps make Love Songs so good. Pointer draws inspiration from various points on the musical map to create something that is not only special, but his own. Self-produced, along with Crit Harmon, Love Songs From the Outskirts of Bliss is a truly impressive second outing — poignant, intelligent, and sophisticated.

Love Songs from the Outskirts of Bliss, Jonathan Pointer
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