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Shoulder to the Wheel

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Album Review

Recorded in the same year that he fathered his third child, married his girlfriend, lost a close family member, and saw his eldest son undergo and recover from emergency brain surgery, Cornwall-based singer/songwriter Ruarri Joseph certainly wasn't short of a source of inspiration or two for his third album, Shoulder Under the Wheel. Unsurprisingly, it's this rather eventful last 12 months which form the backbone of the follow-up to 2009's Both Sides of the Coin, as he reflects on his experiences in 12 highly intimate acoustic folk songs that are tinged equally with sadness and optimism. However, it's only this confessional approach which sets him apart from the dozens of similar, world-weary troubadours, as the low-key, stripped back production fails to bring anything new to the table. Indeed, the influence of early-'70s folk legends like Nick Drake, John Martyn, and Cat Stevens are evident throughout, from the gentle fingerpicking acoustics and fragile harmonies of opener "Nervous Grin" to the melancholic closer "The Faithless Few," to Joseph's own vintage-sounding, whiskey-soaked tones, while there are traces of David Gray on the melodic "Glance Across the Street," Duke Special on the lilting piano hooks and chiming guitars of "An Orchard for an Apple," and Seth Lakeman on the banjo-plucking nu-folk of "For the Love of Grace." His ventures into alt-country and bluesy R&B are no more original but are slightly more memorable, particularly the beat-driven rendition of Sixto Diaz Rodriguez's "Rich Folks Hoax," and the Dylan-esque "Keep On Strolling." But perhaps understandably, considering the circumstances around it conception, Shoulder Under the Wheel never really manages to wake from its permanently tired state, and while Joseph undoubtedly possesses the ability to transfer the emotion of his lyrics into his music, it might only be during a less turbulent period when he's able to do so. ~ Jon O'Brien, Rovi

Customer Reviews


Great local songwriter, big things to come


I was Lucky enough to get this album a while back at one of his concerts, it has been playing none stop since.
Every song is unique and leaves a powerful message.

This is a must Buy!

Incredible album

My favourite of anything he's done so far. Maturity of the second record with the catchiness of the first. Superb - can't fault it.


Born: Edinburgh, Scotland

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Although Ruarri Joseph gained commercial and critical success as a solo artist, it was his years in a number of various bands in the U.K. that helped hone his chops and land him a major-label deal with Atlantic in 2006. Hailing from Newquay, Cornwall, Ruarri Joseph got his start touring and performing with such acts as Eli Bowen, the Rhythm Doctors (with whom he would first play the Glastonbury Festival, in 2004), and Joseph and the Dads. Joseph decided to go solo in October 2005, stripped down to...
Full bio
Shoulder to the Wheel, Ruarri Joseph
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Customer Ratings