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Joseph Arthur | Come Back World

The veteran folk-rocker looks to the light on his optimistic umpteenth outing.

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WHO IS HE? The veteran folk-rocker and visual artist who regularly releases magnificent solo albums, moonlights in supergroups with the likes of Dhani Harrison, Ben Harper, Peter Buck and Jeff Ament — yet still manages to fly miles below the commercial radar.

WHAT IS THIS? His 16th solo studio album in a little more than 20 years — in addition to a plethora of EPs and extracurricular offerings — and still another album that probably won’t do much for his popularity or bank account.

WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE? A singer-songwriter at the height of his powers. And at times, the depths of his despair. Arthur says these songs are about surviving hardship, hopelessness and isolation. Thankfully, the key word in his description turns out to be surviving: While there’s no mistaking the shadows lurking at the edges of these cuts, the bulk of them look to the light with their optimistic lyrics and melodies.

WHAT SHOULD IT BE TITLED? It’s A Swell World After All — If It Doesn’t Kill You.

HOW SHOULD I LISTEN TO IT? With someone you love, while doing something you love.

WHAT 10 WORDS DESCRIBE IT? Intimate, positive, compassionate, sweet, inspirational, understated, affectionate, melodic, therapeutic, tender.

WHAT ARE THE BEST SONGS? Every one of these quietly beautiful numbers is the musical equivalent of a daily affirmation, but you could do worse than the gospel-tinged I’ll Be Around, the lightly bouncing Tomorrow Today and the harmonica-flecked folk of Mayor of the Lower Eastside.

WHAT WILL MY FRIENDS SAY? ‘For a dude in such a good mood, why does he always sound like somebody just killed his dog?’

HOW OFTEN WILL I LISTEN TO THIS? Whenever you need to be reminded that things could always be worse.

IF THIS ALBUM WERE DRUGS, WHAT WOULD IT BE? Anti-depressants.

SHOULD I BUY, STREAM OR STEAL IT? They say you can’t buy happiness. But it never hurts to try. And if that doesn’t work, maybe you can stream it.