Joseph Arthur is just such an artist. Signed to Peter Gabriel's Real World label, Arthur has put out three albums of achingly beautiful, mostly acoustic work that is full of the kind of raw emotion and passion that only a solo artist can give. These two tracks are taken from a live show in Dallas in 2000 and show just why so many people expect great things from him. "In the Sun" has gained some fame recently for being covered by REM's Michael Stipe for Katrina Relief but this version, with just an acoustic guitar, is by far the superior version (though the Stipe one isn't bad and I recommend you track it down). The other song, "I Donated Myself to the Mexican Army" I think probably sums up what it must be like to be in Iraq these days. "I don't know where we're going from here, I'm just following orders,I don't know how we'll conquer the king, This ain't my revolution." Arthur has an entire acoustic set for download on his site which is equally brilliant.
(mp3) Joseph Arthur -- In the Sun (Live)
(mp3) Joseph Arthur -- I Donated Myself To The Mexican Army (Live)
On the opposite end of the singer songwriter spectrum from Arthur is Badly Drawn Boy. Although he hids behind a stage name, Bady Drawn Boy is absolutely a one man show. His music is often very Beatlesque (perhaps the most overused description of music ever but I think appropriate here) and feels like he having a lot of fun performing. But underneath that is a sense of meloncholy and longing that gives his music a bittersweet taste. The two songs here are from the Soundtrack to the movie ABOUT A BOY, which is an excellent film based on the book by Nick Hornby, a YMOZ fave. "Silent Sigh" will break your heart when you hear it. At least it does mine.
(mp3) Badly Drawn Boy -- Silent Sigh
(mp3) Badly Drawn Boy -- Something To Talk About