The Black Sorrows : 'Citizen John'

Joe Camilleri returns from the wilderness with a fantastic effort.

On the cover of Citizen John, Joe Camilleri looks somewhat defeated hunched over his guitar. Or maybe he is just catching his breath for another salvo. The renowned songwriter has been delivering since the ‘70s in various guises and styles. Biblical themes are never too far away, ‘Brother Moses Sister Mae’, ‘Way Below The Heavens’ and ‘Messiah’ jumpstart the spiritual journey.

He delivers his sermons with lugubrious style. Perceptive and poetic, he remains audaciously sensual with a forlorn baritone and some wry folky songs. ‘Storm The Bastille’ has imagery and symbolism of haunted souls seeking a degree of release. ‘Citizen John’ is a shadowy little jingle full of warmth and intimacy.

His earlier bands had a more vigorous approach, yet as he is now in his autumn years he straddles the podium like Van Morrison with style and grace and allows his soul-groove voice to take songs into murkier territory.

By and large, he can be minimal and yet absolutely charged with feeling.