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Joseph LeMay

Seventeen Acres – 2014 ( Self-released)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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CDs by Joseph LeMay

Some artists seem to appear wholly formed, not needing to rely on any previous pedigree or aural introduction to set the stage. Joseph LeMay seems to be one of those, a singer/songwriter who sounds for all the world like an artist who's already achieved venerable stature or at very least, been making music for quite some time. And yet, none of those qualifications apply, a mark that if anything, LeMay simply has a well-tuned ear and the capacity for shaping a sound that's timeless and inspired.

"Seventeen Acres," LeMay's self-produced debut, may indeed have been inspired by a sprawling Tennessee homestead as he claims in his bio, but the fact is these 11 tracks really span the breadth of the American heartland, with an honest, rustic, winsome appeal that brings any number of influences into play. And yet while it's easy to dwell upon the particular precedents - Paul Simon being the one that quickly comes to mind - it's far better to credit him instead with the wherewithal to craft such sweetly sublime songs.

While most lean towards the softer side - "Seventeen Acres," "You Still Do It" and "Fruit on the Vine" being among the most alluring examples - LeMay also shows a propensity towards an occasional uptempo tune, with "Crazy Woman," "Nothing You Can Do" and "Molly My Girl" offering opportunity to kick up his heels. Still, the best of the lot come in the form of "Possumhaw" and "Just So," a pair of songs that start out as a whisper and eventually culminate in what's best described as a sweeping emotional outpour on what is a wonderful introduction.