It would require a couple promotions for Joe West, now back home in New Mexico after an acting stint in New York and some musical success in Austin with the band the Sinners, to reach the position of cult artist. (Its telling that the musicians West most immediately brings to mind Terry Allen, Ronny Elliott, Thomas Anderson, Michael Hall are all cult figures in the music world or, like West, aspiring cult figures.)
But thats not from lack of trying or from lack of worthiness. Its more like a healthy lack of convention. Granted, the sound created by West and his backers keyboards-and-guitar-led folk-rock with a honky-tonk heart and a satirists soul isnt all that off-center. Nor, for that matter, is his narrative writing style, although the engrossing Reprimand is a whiplash threat as it moves from relationship story to original passion play and back again. But combine the two into what might be a song cycle and add a whiff of mystery just who is this Jamie character who keeps popping up? and it might be a tough sell.
Im buying, though, especially if West continues to dream up songs as catchy (More Than Youll Ever Know and the Tex-Mexy Sometimes Lovers), witty (Franks Jealous), and subtly sinister (Video Taping Our Love and 21st Century Garbage Man, the latter a semi-rehabilitated Psycho Killer paroled to Santa Fe) as the ambitious gang gathered here.