When I used to think about Providence, Rhode Island, three things came to mind: an ex-boyfriend from a nearby suburb who listened to Biohazard, Greyhound bus rides to Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel and a terribly awful, no good party I went to at Brown one time where people were either dressed as old-timey surgeons or prohibition bartenders, I’m not sure which (and I’m certain this isn’t because I didn’t go to Brown).
Now when I think of Providence, I think of songwriters; of young, brilliant lyricists who often embrace the story-song tradition, like John McCauley and Joe Fletcher. Though we’ve lost John to New York City, we’ve won Joe, who moved to Nashville just last week.
The first thing that struck me about White Lighter, Joe’s most recent record with his band The Wrong Reasons, is his sheer ability to embody a character and bring to life subtle details of a song; there’s an appreciation for the tradition of living someone else’s life through verse not often seen in modern lyricism. Whether or not Joe experienced anything he is singing about or not is a moot point; we all lived through it, because he’s singing about the human condition and damn if that’s not what keeps us up at night. Joe also isn’t shy to play with song structure, often omitting a verse-chorus-verse roadmap in favor of something much less uncharted, free, natural, exciting, poetic.
Please enjoy these acoustic versions of “Ambulances” and “Florence, Alabama,” the latter from his forthcoming album You’ve Got the Wrong Man, out sometime soonish. Video by the excellent Sean Michael Kelly.