Josh Joplin Photo

The wait is over. Josh Joplin, one of the most striking songwriters and bandleaders of the early 21st century, released his first full-length album in ten years. Figure Drawing, on Joplin’s own independent label, NarrowMoat. The record features eleven new compositions by Joplin and a sound that combines his roots in folk music and his past success as an indie-rocker without shortchanging either development.

This is the third album credited to Among the Oak & Ash, the name of Joplin’s folk-rock collective since 2009. Joining the lead singer-guitarist this time are Fats Kaplin (Jack White’s string wizard), Bryan Owings (Emmylou Harris’s drummer), Allen Broyles (keyboardist for Kelly Hogan and Josh Joplin Group) and Wes Langlois (the guitarist who co-wrote two songs with Joplin).

Figure Drawing is the eleventh full-length album of new songs that Joplin has released. After five self-released albums, Joplin was signed to Artemis Records in 2000, which re-released Useful Music and The Future That Was. Useful Music, included Joplin’s #1 song charter, Camera One, produced by Talking Heads’ Jerry Harrison. A vinyl edition is planned for the award-winning record in celebration of its forthcoming 25th Anniversary.

Joplin’s experiences, from his early days as a Dylanesque troubadour-street-singer, to his mid-career success as an indie-rocker, to his graceful entree as an artist in middle-age, are all reflected succinctly, Figure Drawing, the broadest, deepest, and most beautifully balanced record of his career. His live performances are still refreshing in their emotional immediacy, balanced by his good humor and immense gift for storytelling. His return to music is like running into an old acquaintance you effortlessly pick right back up with and wish you hadn’t lost touch with in the first place.