Joel Zoss | Lila

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United States - Mass. - Western

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Folk: Progressive Folk Blues: Finger-Picked Guitar Moods: Type: Lyrical
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by Joel Zoss

Progressive folk
Genre: Folk: Progressive Folk
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Oh, Jerusalem
5:34 album only
2. Pushing the River
3:45 album only
3. Mother Wanted you Home
6:24 album only
4. Cantina Bodega
5:04 album only
5. Till I Met You
4:46 album only
6. Pretty Flowers
6:00 album only
7. Touchstone
4:10 album only
8. In My Dreams
5:04 album only
9. The Token
4:33 album only
10. Junkers Blues
3:34 album only
11. Oh, Babe, It Ain't No Lie
4:55 album only
12. 'Tis of Thee
3:48 album only
13. Sarah's Song
3:49 album only


Album Notes
JOEL ZOSS has enjoyed a worldwide cult following as a master songwriter since Bonnie Raitt recorded his “Too Long at the Fair” and “I Gave My Love a Candle.” His songs have sold millions of copies, earning him two gold records, and have been acquired and licensed by institutions as diverse as MUZAK and the Smithsonian Institution. He is a National Endowment for the Arts Fellow of Creative Writing and a PEN short story award winner. His recordings are currently available on BMG/SONY as imports from Japan, in the United States on Catalan, Rounder, Critique, DM, and through the Smithsonian; and at CD Baby, iTunes, and many other sites online. Joel’s album Lila (2008) was produced by June Millington, leader of the legendary group Fanny.

Since 2007 Joel has appeared frequently with B.B.King in theaters across the country. In addition, he had performed and recorded with many highly regarded artists including James Taylor, David Bromberg, Bonnie Raitt, John Hartford, Paul Butterfield, David Sanborn, Vassar Clements, Lowell George, Little Feat, John Hall and Orleans, Taj Mahal, Norman Blake, Juan-Carlos Formell, Todd Rundgren, Kate Taylor, The Master Musicians of Jajouka, and Howling Wolf. As a solo artist and with the Joel Zoss Trio (Guy DeVito, bass, and Billy Klock, drums) he has appeared at landmark folk and national venues from Manhattan’s The Living Room to the Henry Miller Library in Big Sur; the Philadelphia Folk Festival, The Beacon Theater, Folk City, Max’s Kansas City, The Cutting Room, The Bottom Line, The Other End, The Main Point, and New England’s Passim, Cafe Lena, Johnny D's, Paradise, Bushnell, Hooker-Dunham Theatre, Iron Horse Music Hall, and Northampton Academy of Music.

Here is a sampling of press comments:

American dream songs called in long-distance from an area code as yet unspecified.

—Rolling Stone

He has an uncanny knack for conjuring up gorgeous images that tap the most complex of human emotions.

—Honolulu Times

A unique personality, with all the magic and mystery and mischievousness of the classic troubadour. The melodies will haunt you. His lyrics are first-rate poetry.
—The Village Voice

It was a treat to see Zoss perform old blues numbers and songs from his forthcoming album…the audience was sent
back out into the warm night knowing they had witnessed something special.

—Lahri Bond, Dirty Linen #114, November 2004

For more information: Website. Track notes. Lyrics. Gigs posted here. Bio. Press. : Songs & videos at this site. Gigs posted here. : Buying/downloading tracks & albums.



to write a review

Cinnie Morgan

Worth waiting for
Anyone who knows me, knows that I’ve been talking about this album since the spring of 2007. Well, it finally came out at the beginning of March of '08. Joel Zoss likes to take his time and get it right. His last album came out more than 30 years ago. I fell in love with that album and still have it, which is why I took the trouble to hunt Zoss down on the Web. Serendipitously, he was just finishing up this album, and we started exchanging emails. I was ecstatic, especially after I heard it. The whole album just oozes Joel’s demand for perfection and the listener’s attentive involvement. It’s a spice shop for your ears.

It’s called "Lila," and there is a link between the old album and the new one. Both albums have a song that was one of my favorites on the first, "Sarah’s Song." Zoss sings and plays many instruments, and mighty well, I might add, and writes seriously crafted songs. There are songwriters who just throw songs together, and then there are crafters. He is of the latter variety. "Sarah’s Song" is just one of the many that showcases his talents.

I happen to pay attention to lyrics. I want songs to sound good, but I like lyrics that resonate within me, as well. "Sarah’s Song" always amazed me for those reasons. It’s a lyrical plea, half of a conversation, if you will, between a man who is vulnerable and all but lost without "Sarah," yet it isn’t sappy.

Fast forward to the 21st century, and you have an album with that song and songs in a basket-full of styles. In the day of the shuffle, does it matter what song comes first? I think it does. I think that the true artist in the term "recording artist" thinks about the order of the songs on his or her album, and this one starts off with "Oh, Jerusalem," which is a 20th century song that has a very sad relevance in the 21st century. Written in 1990, and interestingly, the central question in a song that begs for "no more bloodletting/no more babies crying" falls exactly in the middle of the lyrics: "Where is your milk and honey?"

In any case, this album, which falls into the genre of Progressive Folk, has blues, love songs, reggae infusions and only one song that was not written by Zoss. It is "Oh, Babe, It Ain’t No Lie," by the late Elizabeth Cotten, who is best known for writing "Freight Train." There was a time when every young guitar student learned "Freight Train" before learning any other song.

I’ve probably played this CD a hundred times already. While I can’t say that I have a favorite song, certain songs, along with those two already mentioned, jump out for me. "Pretty Flowers" might have been written by Bob Marley, but it wasn’t. I love this song and I love the back-up singing by The Coyote Sisters (Leah Kunkel & Marty Gwinn). They turn up on a lot of the tracks. When I listen to this song, I wish that I HAD met Joel Zoss. I also wish that I was 25 and not married.

The musicians who support Zoss on this album are not to be ignored, either. The track notes don’t come with the CD. Joel is wise and green and has figured out that he can post that info, along with his lyrics, on his website and save some trees, however, the track notes are not posted yet. Well, even if the album has been in limbo for some months, in release terms, it’s a new baby. But I’ve seen who plays what on which track, and when you see it, you will be amazed at how spare it is. I guess the credit goes to producer June Millington for drawing out such a rich sound from only a handful of musicians. June, for those old enough and savvy enough to remember, was in an all-female rock band called Fanny, in the late ’60s, that was WAY ahead of its time. She continued to make music and waves, and it’s obvious that she knows what she’s doing. Thanks, June.

If you play the tracks in order, by the time you get to 7, "Touchstone," also one of my favorites (o.k., there is only one track that is NOT one of my favorites, and it’s still very good), you will start to wonder: "Why is this album called ’Lila.’ There isn’t one song called ’Lila’ on it." And, for the answer to that, I guess you would have to ask Joel, when you see him. As I write this, he's recovering from a broken leg, courtesy of the weather in New England. He was opening shows for B.B. King, at the time, and B.B. loved him. He should be back on the road in a few weeks. Do you think B.B. King doesn’t know good when he hears it?

I know that Joel used his recovery time to write some new songs, so I hope that a NEW new album will happen in the not too distant future, because I now have the first one on vinyl, CD and MP3. Perhaps another can be done before there is yet another new medium?