The three-year gap between Joseph Arthur's previous solo album and his latest isn't an interminable period, but it felt like much longer to the NYC-based singer-songwriter who considers Come Back World to be his creative rebirth.
We last heard from Arthur a year ago, when he was touting his Arthur Buckcollaboration with R.E.M.'s Peter Buck. He explains to Q104.3 New York's Out of the Box with Jonathan Clarke that the Arthur Buck band represented his "stepping back into music" after languishing for some time.
Arthur Buck has a second album on the way, Arthur confirms. But with some of his recent challenges — a falling out with his family and a nagging shoulder injury — behind him, he is enjoying his own Renaissance on this his 16th solo album.
"It's a comeback kind of thing, but it's also about your world falling apart, basically," Arthur says. "But it's an optimistic record in that this is on the other side, when you've gone through trauma. ...People are surprised at how optimistic it is, because it's on the other side of trauma."
When Arthur began writing what became Come Back World, it was a much darker album that had come out of a much darker time, when he wasn't sure how to get his life or career back in order. But as the process wore on and he got more distance from his disillusionment, he couldn't relate the negativity anymore. He began rewriting his songs.
"I started putting more optimism into it and actually [expressing] how I was actually feeling, and if a song was dark, maybe I would give it an uplifting angle," he recalls.
Over 20 years removed from his debut album, Arthur is a firm believer that his best work comes from discontent.
"Like Herman Hesse said, 'The best stuff comes from necessity.' ...Like when it's life and death. When you get into those phases, when you need something so bad to save your soul in that moment. If you're an artist and you reach for your work in those moments, usually what you come back with is quite powerful or has an extra element of power that it doesn't have if you're not in that space."
Watch the full interview in the player at the top of this page or here.
Here's the official music video for Joseph Arthur's "Mayor Of The Lower East Side":