Simon Joyner is someone who has been critically acclaimed by the likes of John Peel and Conor Oberst, yet has a relatively low profile in the UK. Within the US – in particular his hometown area of Omaha, Nebraska – he has been known to organise tours on the basis of playing a gig in someone’s house in return for a bed for the night. That type of approach will have prepared him for the intimate surroundings of Kraak. He has also taken a similarly unorthodox, and some may say financially limiting, approach to releasing his new record, Ghosts, which is in the vinyl format only. He announces proudly on his website that, “No digital technology was used in making this record,” although digital downloads are available. There’s just about enough space for all six members of the band on the Kraak stage, with the drummer standing to one side whilst the pedal steel guitarist, Mike Friedman, has to be heard rather than seen, but it’s the sound that counts and it is a rather glorious. Supplemented on some numbers by Megan Siebe, who plays agreeably violent violin, the style is very much located within the Americana genre, comprising of slow burning stories that develop and build to carefully created climaxes. Wearing what appears to be a Stetson hat, Joyner leads from the front and that may be the one area in need of attention, as his occasionally flat and dry delivery, in the manner of a low-key Nick Cave, can seem at odds with the pristine sound. There are a lot of biblical references (“When you’re in pain / sing Hallelujah”) along with some intriguing word play (“I can barely carry / never mind bury / the past”). When the rousing choruses are reached it almost seems like summer is around the corner. Almost. Words & photography: Ged Camera.