If we were driving down Atlanta’s Juniper Street in my old forest green Saturn SL circa 1998, you can bet I was blasting Boxing Nostalgic by Josh Joplin. A prolific singer-songwriter, Josh was part of a booming music scene that included John Mayer, Jennifer Nettles and Shawn Mullins. I was fortunate to have made his acquaintance a few times and see him perform at Eddie’s Attic at a pivotal time in my life when one ponders the trajectory of life in their late 20s. His sophomore album Useful Music sort of became the soundtrack of that era.
Mr. Joplin has been off the live music scene for a number of years and now he’s back with a new EP titled Earth and Other Things. He started his hour-long set at Joe’s Pub with two new songs ‘Blue Skies Again’ and ‘Best Intention Yet’ which both underscore why I have always loved Josh’s music: he’s forward-looking, optimistic and above all passionate. He made my night when he played an acoustic version of ‘I’ve Changed,’ his gem ‘Matter’ and his best known song, ‘Camera One.’ His encore included ‘Dutch Wonderland’ about his Pennsylvania roots and ‘Gravity’ when everybody falls in small degrees.
In closing, Earth needs Josh Joplin, among other things. His songs continue to resonate in an introspective, onward focused and honest way. Now that’s useful music.