American Soul is a fitting brand for Mark Joseph; since his 2017 album by that title, he has charted a relentless and soulful course through America, and Americana, from blues to country to psychedelic rock and everything in between. On his newest offering, “Palisade Peach,” Joseph’s fourth full-length album, he continues this journey, from his soul, straight to your heart. It is a “blues” album in the truest sense of the word, with familiar 12 bar strains that echo the march of American music from the rural southern US up the Mississippi, to cities like Minneapolis and Chicago where it found a wider urban audience; it is the blues that has given rise to “rhythm and blues,” to “soul” and to “rock and roll.” You find it all on “Palisade Peach.”
Mark Joseph is as authentically American as you would want, and as heartfelt and passionate as you can get. Joseph dings all the bells on any given night, indeed darn near every night, chalking up 200+ shows a year, criss-crossing the heartland, from CO to MS, from NY to LA, as the hardest working family music man you will ever know. He is also piling up the albums, roughly one a year, churning out consistently high quality product. All the while he is absorbing and cherrypicking the best America has to offer and finding his unique voice as an artist.
And found it he has. Lord can this man sing. He’s got a range Gregg Allman dreamed of, with a tone and character rivaling Chris Stapleton. He digs low for the lows, and soars with the highs, all with his genuine Northfield MN gravel. It’s a voice that wraps its everlasting arms around you and won’t let go, because he is as loyal to his fans as he is to his own family. If you are in his circles, Mark Joseph has got you.
He also shreds on guitar, a la Clapton with Cream, a brilliant round tone with vibrato and touch. At times you’d swear you’re hearing Garcia, at others some ancient Delta bluesman, long forgotten, but for the DNA of the soul of America.
On “Palisade Peach,” Joseph once again joins forces with producer and slide guitar sensei Steve McCormick, who also produced his 2019 album “Musician and the Muse.” Together they cultivate synergy from LA session cats like Stanley Behrens (War, Canned Heat, Willie Dixon), Jerry Jemmott (Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett), Tony Austin (Kamasi Washington), Michael Jerome Moore (Better Than Ezra, Blind Boys of Alabama, Richard Thompson) and Heather Donavon (Keb’ Mo’, Melody Gardot), while also including many of Joseph’s friends, such as sultry Mobile AL native Ryan Balthrop, and the MN tribe featuring the sexy vibe of soul sisters Steph Devine and Jill Mikelson, the silky harmonies of Alex Steele, and the raging Hammond B3 of Toby Marshall (Koch Marshall trio).
The material is a cross between “neo-classic” originals, title track “Palisade Peach” and “Daisy Train” (featuring legendary chicken-picker Albert Lee), for example, and quintessential classics like Deep Ellum Blues (featuring Melvin Seals from the Jerry Garcia Band), the down-home “Come On In My Kitchen” (Robert Johnson) and Back-Water Blues (Bessie Smith), with toe tapping surprises at every turn.
For a guy hitting his stride as a contender in American music, this record arrives at the perfect time.