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"Joe Whyte is really very good at what he does, his rootsy Americana/folk is beautifully executed...'This City Is Alive' (is) solemn yet tinged with hope, it sets the bar high and confirms that Whyte will be a force in this genre. 'Off To War', with it’s strong Nashville harmonies, reminds me of Desire-era Dylan which is no bad thing. Everything you’d expect from a record of this type is there, subtle guitar, haunting harmonica and melancholic, occasionally sentimental lyrics, all pulled together by Whyte’s strong voice."
There appears to be a resurgence of sorts of the modern troubadour. the male singer/songwriter armed with only an acoustic guitar and the stories he weaves always teetering on the precipice between emotional authenticity and cloying sentimentality. The balance becomes even more precarious when you have pop leanings as the term “pop” has been severed from it’s root “popular” into something fleeting and vapid.

A well-crafted song defies genre. Whether it’s Sinatra’s I did It My Way or Willie Nelson’s Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain, there’s a craftsmanship that transcends and a balanced symmetry of sound and word. These types of songs also used to fall under the moniker of pop because they were “popular” not because they were reminiscent of sugary confection.

New Jersey based Joe Whyte’s new (FREE!) release, When The Day Breaks, is a slice of pop-Americana that straddles territory settled in the 70’s by pioneers like Gordon Lightfoot and Stephen Stills and currently being reshaped by the likes of the Avett Brothers, Darrell Scott and Brice Robinson.

Rambling is the asphalt-hearted theme that runs through this release. The jangly channeling of Gram Parsons in the opener Please Believe Me portrays a sunny tempo belying the narrators compulsion to hit the road and not allow anyone to fence him. It’s a Shame with its Dobro yawn supplies a precisely suited accompaniment to reflect the dark dysfunction of a man destined to leave a caring woman knowing full well its the wrong thing to do,

This City is Alive has the narrator sit still in the City that Never Sleeps (sounding like a lost track from Elton John’s Tumbleweed Connection) yet fights the urge to escape before it steals the person he’s finally discovered he is. Off to War is a different kind of leaving. A soldier being deployed wants more then anything to be home with his family and his solemn ache is the strongest testament against an unjust war.

Blending a pop songwriters instinct for precision and hook with the warmth and authenticity in storytelling that are the trademarks of folk and country Whyte rescues the much maligned genre and gives it beauty and depth.

4 of 5 stars.
After almost three years without a new CD, Matawan turned New York City soloist Joe Whyte has decided to climb back into the arena of composition and grace us with some new product. His latest disc is titled, When the Day Breaks and features a good mixture of Americana/folk styled writing that has elevated him to the status of “The King of NYC Americana.” And while that may be the case, I’ve watched him rub enough greasy elbows in his own home state to know he probably doesn’t mind with being associated with us poor Jersey folk either.

The new disk is a big step up for Joe and features great production as well as players. Fellow musicians such as Dan Marcus (Crescent & Frost, Ana Egge) on guitar, mandolin and Dobro as well as the four-string fortitude of Catherine Popper (Grace Potter, Ryan Adams) ensure Whyte has a steady force behind his melodic mezzo-soprano voice. Songs like “Please Believe Me” jump along on Dobro-fueled springs and two by four bass bounces. Pianos, acoustic guitars and mandolins sprinkle down all over the song like flurries in February, bracing Whytes warmed up vocal. I say warmed up because it takes about a half of a verse for Joe to climb into his stratosphere and level off with the band but once he stretches out into the chorus he’s got it nailed.

Song two is titled “This City Is Alive” and brings forth nasally visions of early Jagger doing “Knocking On Heavens Door.” Harmonicas streamline the intro and the bridge ala Bruuuuce! But it works well with his down home honky tonked regime. His somber toned “Off To War” could take place anywhere in the history of the world with its theme of a soldier saying goodbye to his family on his way to war. Visions of doubt mix with the worries of survival, cherished love of wife and children and the aftermath of whatever ends up happening. Ethereal harmonies and warm acoustic guitars bubble like a brook as Whyte soars with poignant lyrics such as, “I hope you cover me in kisses instead of the red, white and blue.”

The overall theme stays pretty on track for this six-song disk and Joe is an avid learner who only gets better as he goes along his path. “It’s A Shame” continues his success as it launches lazy hazy spring fed Dobro over the top of acoustic and bass, allowing Whyte to tell his dusty, back roads story with clarity. This is my pick of the disk for a couple of reasons. First of all, structurally sound and strong, and second, this is one that could easily flip and support a full country band and crossover effort well. Nice job.

“4TH Of July” sports steel bending guitars, half timed feel of the wilderness, crying in the distance of its own solitary verses. Not sure who is playing lap steel, as they aren’t listed under that particular instrument, but they’re quite good and really make this song shine with vivid aural imagery. Support harmonies from Catherine Popper are also vital here.

One of the better EPs I’ve had the pleasure of listening to lately. Joe Whyte will be opening for Rod Picot on Tuesday Dec. 7 at The Saint in Asbury Park. Go check him out and buy his CD, it’s worth the trip.
"**** (4 stars). A significant achievement...The performance standard is high throughout...delicately crafted... Whyte's youthful tenor belies his maturity as a deft writer...it balances musical credibility with populist appeal in a way that is often made to look impossible by less adept artists."
Maverick Country (UK)
"comfortingly familiar and refreshingly new at the same time...Whyte’s clever
arrangements make his sound wholly unique...a cohesive, cleverly-arranged set that eases from one song to the next; there’s no throwaway
tracks here – every one begs a listen from the opening note." - Alyssa Rashbaum,
"8 out of 10. Musically, the album is perfect. The title track is just beautiful,
and the whole song is well arranged. ‘Out of Tune’ is again so fantastically
arranged, and Joe’s voice is really let to work on this song. I think with his
talent for song writing he could really get some good results. Joe manages to
portray warmth in his songs that really hits you hard, and its hard not to feel just a little melancholic when you hear his voice soar."
BEST of 2007!!
Over the next weeks we will all start seeing the Best of 2007 lists pop up all over the place. While we don't have one of those lists here at AmericanaRoots.com, if we did, Devil in the Details by Joe Whyte would be on mine, likely at the top! This is a flat out great CD. I first heard Joe on our podcast Americana Roots Review and recently received the CD. He's one of those guys who does it all. He wrote all the songs, handles lead vocals, guitar and some mandolin on the disc, and also produced the disc. Heck, he's even a huge Red Sox fan and they just won it all. I hate guys like this...well, just kidding!

The CD is a diverse collection of alt-country, americana tunes that vary from slower stripped down ballads to uptempo full band rockers. More than any other CD I've heard recently, this one had me really focused in on the vocals. In an email Joe mentioned that he really works on the vocals. Whether it is hard work, talent, or both the lyrics really shine on the disc. "This Foolish Heart" starts things off with a bang. The very catchy chorus "this foolish heart can't take a hint, and keeps me comin' round your door." The next cut is "Let Me Down" where the singer laments a lost love and its effect on him, singing "All I seem to play are the minor chords, the major ones won't show their face no more." Whyte uses multiple instrumentation, frequently highlighting mandolin and fiddle as well as pedal steel and piano. He also has great vocal range for a male singer. "Mercury" starts off slowly and with the lyrics "left stranded on your couch, just dreaming about your mouth." As this relationship rises and falls like 'mercury' so does the tempo, picking up in the middle with the addition of mandolin.

My favorite song on the CD is the hard driving "Linden to LA" which starts off with harmonica much like "I Feel Alright" by Steve Earle. I'm sure Joe will get some comparisons to Earle, who also writes his own tunes and skillfully mixes instruments and tempo on his CDs. One of the slower tunes is "No More" which is essentially a vocals/mandolin tune with a nice harmonica/mandolin bridge in the middle of the tune. I imagine this would be a particularly effective tune live. This is followed by the pretty ballad "Out of Tune" on which Joe is joined on harmony vocals by his friend Kelley McRae whose beautiful voice and music I hope to be reviewing on this site shortly. The CD closes with the simple but very nice tune "Ring Around the Moon", another tune that makes me think Joe may have better success with music than with relationships. He sings "I miss your keys, left in the door that let me know you made your way home, and all your shoes thrown in the hall, your favorite ones that made you seem so tall."

Apparently others have lauded Joe's songwriting ability. For the past three years Joe has been a recipient of an ASCAPlus award which is a merit-based songwriting grant from ASCAP. He has also had music placed in the PBS show "Roadtrip Nation". Do yourself a favor, take the 'Desperate Housewives Season 1" DVD off your Christmas list and replace it with Devil in the Details by Joe Whyte. Besides having a great CD to listen to you won't be teased as much by the guys on the bowling team! Check out Joe at www.joewhyte.com.

By Don Zelazny
Don Zelazny - Americana Roots
“4 Stars!!”

What a damn good album this is! There's almost nothing to dislike about it! With these eleven tracks, New Yorker Joe Whyte has put together a collection of songs that stick with you from the very first time you hear them. With his great voice, slightly reminiscent of Ryan Adams and Jesse Malin, he puts together a series of Americana and alt-country songs, rather reminiscent of the heyday of Whiskeytown. In parts it's real heart-warming rock, such as in the heavenly “Let Me Down”, “Linden To L.A.” or “Mercury”, after which, he eases back the throttle, such as in the pedal-steel-soaked and a little reminiscent of both The Jayhawks and the ever-mentioned Adams ballad “Devil In The Details”, the acoustic “No More” or “Out Of June” performed with Kelly McRae. Whyte puts himself forward as, in our opinion, the most promising artist of the near future. Purchase immediately and enjoy for hours is the inevitable message in a case like this! – CtrlAltCountry.be (translated from Dutch) January 2008
This has been a great week for stumbling upon fantastic roots/Americana artists. First, Jon Jackson and now Joe Whyte. Where Jon is an fantastic artist that might toil in obscurity for years, Joe is teetering on the brink of radio play and soundtrack appearances. Don't get me wrong as that isn't a slight to Joe's songs, in fact quite the opposite. His tracks are polished compositions that can appeal to the masses without abandoning his roots/Americana fans.

Devil in the Details opens with This Foolish Heart, which hits you with the immediate melody of Rhett Miller's solo work. Strings, mandolin and a sing-along chorus all work well with Joe's vocals (especially when he hits the falsettos). It's the type of song you hear once, and click on the Itunes store and buy. Even the opening lyric - let's mess around like when we were 15 - is something you can't help but smile when you hear it.

It would be easy to stop there, but Whyte really crafted a strong record. He is able to change pace with full fledged band numbers (Let Me Down) and stripped down, slow ballads (the beautiful Out of Tune). After two infectious rockers he slows things down with the lap steel laced title track. The melancholy floats around the bending notes as Whyte reaches the point of giving up on a relationship. It's nothing new for the genre, but that doesn't mean it doesn't stand out.

That's probably the best compliment you can give a relatively unknown artist like Whyte. Alt-country and twang has been embraced by everyone from punk rockers to the coolest cool kids in the last few years, and musicians think tossing around whiskey soaked thoughts over a lap steel makes them an Americana artist. Instead, a genre long overlooked has become over saturated and dull. That's why records like Whyte's songs have so much potential.

Instead of another artist struggling to stand out, Whyte's tracks grab your attention with little effort. Mercury is a nice acoustic track with perfect harmonies, hand claps and mandolin and it shows that Whyte feels comfortable letting a melody develop. Unlike a lot of artists, he doesn't force 40 minutes of heartache on you. Linden to LA is another rocker and the energy really provides the sweet to Wrecking Ball (I hate to play the sounds-like game, but Wrecking Ball sounds like Whiskeytown Ryan Adams) and No More's sour. No More is a spare, gospel confessional with some dueling vocals, a few simple strums of a mandolin and a nice harmonica. That being said, it's also the most powerful song on this record.

On Just in Case he sings, "I don't feel any better" and transports you into that blissful depression some of us search for; the times when you start over thinking your decisions and wondering what could have been. The end of your worst relationships are your biggest regrets. We've all been there, and Whyte is able to take us back. That's something bigger than roots music, which gives me the sneaking suspicion that Joe Whyte might end up being bigger too.
With his new album Devil In The Details, New York singer/songwriter Joe Whyte contributes his own slant to the ever-expanding genre of Americana. The album kicks off with "This Foolish Heart," an up-tempo track built on jangly mandolin and fiddle. The music provides a worthy backdrop for Whyte's distinctive voice, which falls somewhere on the spectrum between Jesse Malin and Ryan Adams. In fact, much of the material on Devil is reminiscent of early Whiskeytown. As far as production is concerned, the musical choices were intelligent ones. Whyte is backed by an ensemble of capable musicians (I counted 14 in the liner notes) who contribute various sounds to an album of consistent quality, and Whyte navigates confidently through songs with an assuredness that never approaches pretense. Lyrically, Whyte relies on old stand-by's, or what I like call "relational dysfunction and black widowisms." In other words, he writes a lot of songs about screwed up relationships and soul-sucking women. On "This Foolish Heart," Whyte muses "From the look of those scars and the gun you're waving/ one of us won't be leaving here alive." While many of the songs are up-tempo sing-a-longs, Whyte provides listeners with respite on slower songs like "Out Of Tune" and "Ring Around The Moon." Ultimately, the album is a cohesive collection of alt. country pearls that shimmer with simplicity and effectiveness. Devil In The Details will be available for purchase on October 9, and you can purchase Joe's last album The Lower 48 on iTunes. -- Capt. Obvious
"He has a particularly beautiful voice and a great set of musicians in his group...his beautiful, passionate and expressive voice soars with great expression. At times his voice especially reminds me of early Ryan Adams and the British singer Teddy Thompson. The subjects of the songs are a mix of love and love’s sorrow, pain and depression, in short everything necessary to drag the listener in to the stories of the songs. The strongest new songs on this album are the title track, Devil in the Details, Out of Tune (with excellent harmony vocals by Kelley McRae) and the beautiful This Foolish Heart. I currently suspect that this beautiful disc will surface somewhere in my Best of 2007 list. To succeed in that it must be a tremendous disc, hence this review." (Translated from Dutch)
If your bag is radio-friendly, accomplished Americana with easy hooks and time-tested kind of melodies, then hey, go give an ear to Joe. First time round, Joe brought out an album in 2005, The Lower 48, which coincided with live appearances at the Carlsberg Rhythm & Roots Festival in Kilkenny, where he opened for Son Volt among others. So now, in a similar gambit, Joe's follow-up full-length CD is being released here to coincide with a handful of dates he's playing in Ireland, Scotland and London very shortly. Most of the time there's an upbeat and optimistic up-tempo gait to Joe's music, with a straightforward backbeat and attractive electro-acoustic setting, but I warmed more readily to the more stripped-down cuts like No More and the plaintive Out Of Tune and Ring Around The Moon. Generally tho', Joe's music is that of a true all-rounder in terms of appeal: he's a real good singer, he's got a solid backing band (including Brian Bassett, Jason Cade, Dan Nachimson and Dan Marcus), he's obviously totally committed to making music, and his songs slip down like a good session beer – consistently tasty and suitably thirst-quenching, but not so strongly-flavoured or heady as to get you drunk and maybe spoil things. Can't fault that - right? - David Kidman (October 2007)
David Kidman - Netrhythms.co.uk
"I want to hear more...a little reminiscent of Ryan Adams, which is pretty stratospheric company...I think Joe Whyte is the sh*t...the guy’s got it going on from the writing perspective, he sounds fantastic. Check him out!"
Ray Randall - Americana Roots (podcast)
"***** (5 stars) & Artist of the Month"
Pete Harris - Indie Sounds NY, August 2007
"Joe Whyte is the best alt-country artist I've ever heard at TAXI (and I've heard alot)...Great songs. Both thumbs way up...These songs contain the essence of what is good about alt-country music...This is excellent Americana music...This is flat-out killer from head to toe...confident vocals and solid arrangements...there is true artistry at work here...the writing is first-rate...it has an intriguing & appealing vocal character and the band sounds great...really well-written songs with extremely engaging musical arrangements and irresistable melody lines...great voice and well-structured songs with interesting, clever lyrics...Excellent work...these tracks all sound radio-ready. What's not to like??!!"
TAXI
"...there's no dispute that Joe has a fine distinctive voice...in 'Let Me Down' Joe breaks out of the singer-songwriter angst that grips some Americana these days - the best song on the record...a good all-rounder, full of pep"
Americana UK
"This guy sure has a great voice...I have no idea if he is very
well-known, but as for his voice, musical frame-work and song writing this chap really scores...I can't write anything else other than that I cannot find ONE weak moment. A voice that is very pleasant to listen to, that reminds me a bit of the voice of Jesse Malin...he does what he likes to do and you can hear that he is loving it a lot. Nothing wrong with that, I suddenly realize. As it happens, it is making me love it too!"
Jan Janssen - Real Roots Cafe, Netherlands
"...lovely, lulling, softly soothing and sonorous...supremely subtle beauty...one of the most moving and reassuring albums we've heard in quite a while."
Jersey Beat