September 1, 2009

Review: Adam Arcuragi - I Am Become Joy

A few strums from his acoustic guitar and Adam Arcuragi’s clear deep tone begins to spill out words like a river busting free from the restraints of a damn. The published playwright has a lot to say. And in I Am Become Joy—Arcuragi’s sophomore album—his words are woven into a timeless and detailed collection of portraits, musings, and stories, each accompanied by a multitude of acoustic instruments and lush choruses sung by a rotating cast of musicians dubbed "The Lupine Chorale Society."

From jangling tambourines and hand clapping to the slow strum of a guitar, I Am Become Joy’s 11 songs are propelled with the enthusiasm of a gospel congregation and the intimacy of a lone traveling voice. For every moment of polyphonic and orchestral bliss, there is one that floats along with quiet and thoughtful persistence. Recorded mostly in live sessions, songs like “She Comes To Me” and “Math” belong as much between the curtains of a large stage as they do on a neighbor’s front porch.

Lyrically, one of the album’s most compelling takes is “People & Private Music.” Over rolling piano riffs, the repeated snap of a snare drum, and timely contributions from a small brass section, Arcuragi sings:
So let the skinny kids sing one last song / Like condensation holding on too long / It will not matter if your voice is sour / No one will praise the hand before the house / Because it’s slow and smiling and quick as strumming / Yeah, the real thing’s coming / The real thing’s coming.
The up tempo anthem speaks to performers and fans alike about the uniting power of music. Individuals need something higher than themselves, Arcuragi sings, and here that “real thing” is song. Even “skinny kids” and the “sour” voiced can join together in the moment where that “perfect song” is created.

Over the course of the album, Arcuragi establishes his place amongst the likes of Josh Ritter, M. Ward and Jim James as one of the most talented and important young American songwriters. On the album’s closing track, “Bottom of the River,” Arcuragi mourns “I am in love with something invisible.” But, sung over a ramshackle percussion section of cow bells and tin cans, the lyric is much a cry as it is a celebratory howl. With the completion of this record, Arcuragi's talent is now as clear as day.

Rating: A starry night, universal acclaim, and a tall glass of cold lemonade on a warm summer day.

Adam Arcuragi - "People & Private Music" (from I Am Become Joy)

Adam Arcuragi


  1. his singing sounds strained

  2. Just stumbled across this and LOVE it. Oh my gosh - what a gem. Thank you!