For someone who always seems to be moving forward, Joseph Arthur is enjoying taking some time to look back.
The prolific singer, songwriter and painter has released 14 album and 11 EPs under his own name as well as collaborating with others (Ben Harper and Dhani Harrison in Fistful of Mercy; Pearl Jam’s Jeff Ament and drummer Richard Stuverud in RNDM).
On the current tour that comes to Cleveland’s Music Box Supper Club next week, he’s focusing on his 2002 album, “Redemption’s Son.” A 15th anniversary edition will be released on Friday that includes nine previously released bonus tracks recorded in the same sessions.
“I thought about this yesterday, maybe there is a window, a 15-year window to be able to tour an album properly,” the Akron native said during a telephone interview last week. “By the time the record comes out, it’s already old. It’s not where you are artistically, and you’re extra vulnerable about it because it’s your new thing. The self-doubt demons kick in at high gear.”
Those issues weren’t a problem when Arthur revisited the album and the other material to prepare the reissue.
“What’s interesting is I’m able to listen to ‘Redemption’s Son’ now like I’m listening to the new Kendrick Lamar album, like a new artist almost,” he said. “Not that I don’t still relate to the songs, but there’s a healthy amount of distance now where I actually can see it and hear it and play it and get excited about it.
“The album has so much resonance in my life currently … It feels super current to me and not a look back, although I obviously am.”
The original plan was to include only three or four bonus tracks on the second disc and pair them with acoustic versions some “Redemption’s Son” songs, which Arthur recorded. But he believes the bonus tracks are better not sharing space with the new acoustic recordings. He views the bonus disc as a stand-alone album titled “Morning Star.”
“Honestly, when the bonus tracks first came to me, the nine tracks on ‘Morning Star,’ I thought, ‘How did this not make the record?’ ‘Downtown” should have made the record, ‘Pictures of a Life.’ They’re definitely as good as anything on the record, in some cases better. How did I pick ‘Buy a Bag’ over some of these other ones?”
But when he goes back and listens to “Redemption’s Son,” he has no regrets.
“There’s not a thing that drags on … It feels like there is just a flow to it.”
Arthur, who lives in Brooklyn, regularly performs at The Tangier in Akron the night before Thanksgiving, but that often is his only northeast Ohio appearance of the year. He said he still loves his hometown but he wanted to play somewhere else on this tour.
“It’s about time for that, to be more into Cleveland and open it up a little more, broaden the horizons.”