You know that weird musician friend of yours that would be huge if he wasn’t such an asshole and didn’t smoke so much pot? Simon Joyner strikes me as that kind of guy, only he got a few breaks along the way and achieved a small celebrity among a group of artists who shun the limelight (a patch that includes Mountain Goats and Will Oldham).
Beautiful Losers, is a mix of singles and compilation tracks from between 1994 and 1999, and the album title isn't the only thing borrowed from Leonard Cohen here (it’s also the title of Cohen’s totally insane 1966 novel). Joyner’s nylon string acoustic guitar take a beating while his voice reaches for notes it can’t quite grab, underscoring his themes of disillusionment, loneliness, and the beauty of the imperfect.
At his best, Joyner channels Woody Guthrie. He's also an obvious influence on fellow Nebraskan Conor Oberst, sans the trademark warble.
While the more experimental tracks like “Jeff Engel Rules” would have been better off left on the four track, the more traditional folk songs like “Love is Worth Suffering For” and “Sorrow Floats” play to Joyner’s strengths. The best track here, however, is the closer, “One for the Catholic Girls."
by Rory Carroll