JOE RATHBONE "Under the Scorpio Moon" Zakz The Washington Post Friday, August 10, 2007 JOE RATHBONE"Under the Scorpio Moon"Zakz

SINGER-SONGWRITER-GUITARIST Joe Rathbone has seen his share of praise from rock critics who've drawn flattering comparisons to Elvis Costello, Paul Westerberg, Tom Petty and the like. But the best thing about Rathbone's "Under the Scorpio Moon" is that it doesn't attempt to live up to the kudos accorded to his previous CDs with anything other than a series of well-crafted and often subtly arranged songs. In fact, the album's atmospheric moods help set it apart as much as anything else. Augmenting the core roots-rock lineup are cellist David Henry, who also plays keyboards and guitars here, and reedman Jimmy Bowland, on sax, flute and clarinet. Henry's ties to the Cowboy Junkies are evoked from time to time, but Rathbone's songs are solid enough to stand on their own. And never more so than when they come equipped with hook-laden choruses and punchy, Petty-like guitar riffs, as on "Angel," or offer a soaring melody to go along with Rathbone's alternately poetic and pointed lyrics. For a dreamy, guitar-resonating example of the latter, check out "The World (Never Gonna Be the Same)." ad_icon While Rathbone's voice isn't particularly distinctive, it's soulful enough to get the job done on all but a few songs here. Most of what remains is redeemed by an unusual weave of shimmering and percussive sounds. -- Mike Joyce Appearing Tuesday at Iota. © 2007 The Washington Post Company



- 2010 Claudia Marshall with Joe Rathbone (Right)by Claudia Marshall 6.28.11 11:35am Joe Rathbone's debut got him into coffee shops all over the country, when it was picked up by Starbucks radio. His follow-up ep, 'Mad July,' brought him into Studio-A for a chat and performance with FUV's Claudia Marshall, where he told her that he loves being a musician, but his day job as an elementary school teacher is still pretty cool. (2/9/10) LISTEN

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Review: The Mercy Alliance – Some Kind Of Beautiful

Published January 12, 2015 Reviews
They hail from Washington DC, they name their first song after their home state and their songs have that breezy quality which seem destined to be heard whilst cruising down endless freeways. Yet as the The Mercy Alliance’s latest album develops, those images of carefree days on the open road quickly subside and the melancholic side of the band begins to shine through.

Sure, the opening ‘Washington’ immediately speaks of freedom and freeways within the sighed vocals, warm basslines and ringing guitars. It’s the kind of tune which make you think this is the season of sunshine (as I write this in the middle of a British winter). ‘Angel Of Mercy’ and ‘All For The Love In You’ pile on heavier, truly driving guitars and propulsive rhythms but the infectious chorus hook (“Everybody’s trying to tell me. Some kind of beautiful story” for the former) ensures the summery outlook continues.

Then something very interesting happens. ‘Moving In Time’ and ‘This Is How They Know’ mark a change in pace; the former being a slightly eerie offering and it’s the first of several songs which echo the latter days of The Comsat Angels, as does a snarling country-inflected ‘Libertine’. Finally, by the time of the wonderfully subtle finale ‘Drifting In’ (“broken radio, static frequencies. I sit and watch you go”), the feeling of freedom has been replaced with a tangible sense of loss.

Given the radio-friendly quality of their material, it’s surprising The Mercy Alliance aren’t better known. Furthermore, as well as the acknowledged American influences which inform ‘Some Kind Of Beautiful’, there’s a real depth and introspection to this album which becomes ever more apparent as the story unfolds.

Web Sites: The Mercy Alliance Official Site Video for The Mercy Alliance – Washington Further Listening: The Comsat Angels, Wilco

Nashville Scene

- August 10, 2007 JOE RATHBONE This melodic rocker loves a good turn of phrase almost as much as he loves an infectious hook. A recent transplant to Nashville from Atlanta, Rathbone still works in the occasional Cheap Trick-style rave-up, but these days he concentrating on a more textured, bittersweet romanticism, reminiscent of Ben Gibbard and Alejandro Escovedo. His new Under the Scorpio Moon deepens his pub rock with modern atmospherics executed with help from co-producer David Henry and Nashville rock vets Brad Jones, Tony Miracle and Craig Wright. Rathbone has been lying low since arriving in town, but his album, which came out July 24, suggests it's time for his profile to rise in his new hometown. He returns home after a trip to Michigan, where's he's playing a Dylan festival and making an appearance on writer Mitch Albom's syndicated radio show. 9 p.m at the Rutledge. - Michael McCall

Here's what the critics are saying about 'Welcome To Your New Life:'

'Singer-songwriter-guitarist Joe Rathbone throws himself into the arena of Tom Petty (nee Dylan) performers' - Village Voice, New York, NY

'Joe spruces up the singer-songwriter genre with pop overtones.'
- 99X (Atlanta's alternative rock station)

'Rathbone's latest release 'Welcome To Your New Life' is full of what might be termed as 'heartland rock' -- a soulful mix of acoustic and electric texture and grooves -- capped with a voice that hints at Brit Elvis Costello and an attitude that's upbeat yet cynical...Perhaps in Rathbone's case, the cream will rise to the top. His songs show a maturity, even sophistication that is the product of years of listening, playing and, most importantly living. Beatlesque string lines flesh out 'Nothing To Brag About' while 'I Know I've Been Bad' has a chorus that would make Elvis (as in Costello) proud.' - Michael Lipton, Charleston Daily Mail, Charleston, WV

'New Atlanta resident, Joe Rathbone probably comes face to face with a lot of, 'Oh...that's what I'm hearing,'kind of reactions, when explaining his upbeat, pop-inflected music, which bears the stamp of his former home of Jersey City, New Jersey. Quick, name at least one rock act, other than the Boss, to come from New Jersey. If you're one of the smart ones who said The Smithereens, take a bow, because they are one of the most immediately obvious touchstones for Rathbone's sound, on more rocking cuts like, 'Rainbows.' Elsewhere, on the recording, he ranges far from his Garden State roots with the Elvis Costello-sounding strains of, 'I Know I've Been Bad.' A heady melancholy wafts through the Joe Henry-like, 'Heart Full of Song,' and the title cut is a rousing, memorable tune as well. His melodic sense is unerring, and a great tune is all that is needed to lift the ordinary to something much, much higher.' - Southeast Performer

'Equal parts contemplation, confession and celebration, the easy-going pop delivery of Joe Rathbone achieves a personal connection without being overly sentimental.' - Creative Loafing, Atlanta, GA 'A welcome contribution to the contemporary singer/songwriter genre' - All Music Guide

'Deft, deliberate texturing interacts with a certain '70s-radio-influenced daydreaminess in the folk-pop excursions of Atlanta-based singer/songwriter Joe Rathbone.' - Mountain Express, Asheville, NC

'The long-awaited album 'Welcome to Your New Life' proves Joe Rathbone is a serious player, melding americana, folk, rock, pop into a more than palatable 'ear candy.' Here is a singer/songwriter who is significantly talented in his delivery of blisteringly excellent tunes' - Chris Darling, WMPG DJ, Portland, ME

'Rathbone's style hearkens back to AM radio's heyday; back when a singable melody and a good beat was sometimes all it took to score a hit.' - Music Matters.



Joe Rathbone I Can Hear the Windows of Your Breaking Heart (Zakz) By Michael Berick | August 1, 2004 | 12:00am MUSIC | REVIEWS Share Tweet Email Joe Rathbone

Joe Rathbone projects a tempered hopefulness in his songs. In the opening tune, “Learning to Fly,” he establishes the album’s low-key, gently self-deprecating mood, intoning, “I’ve been waiting for you / You’ve been waiting for me / Let’s go for a walk / Forget about terrible things.” There’s something simple and eminently real about understated sentiments such as these. Echoes of Tom Petty, Marshall Crenshaw and the Finn Brothers permeate the disc, and an Elvis Costello influence occasionally surfaces. Rathbone, however, carefully shuns Costello’s tendency toward verbosity and vitriol. The moving small-town portrait “Hometown Queen” reveals another of the album’s strengths: Rathbone’s and co-producer David Henry’s (Guster, Josh Rouse) attention to musical detail. The subtle use of strings deepens the tune’s inherent melancholia. And while Rathbone hasn’t yet come up something as memorable as his mentors’ classics, he’s fashioned a thoroughly winning pop album filled with strong melodies and well-turned lyrics.


- April 2005, No.148 - By Drew Pearce Joe Rathbone, I Can Hear the Windows of Your Heart Breaking Learning to fly / Dipping a wing in the ocean / No, you're not high . . . Your heart is finally in motion, Joe Rathbone sings in the opening track of his second album. Over waves of distorted guitar chords, his falsetto vocal melody glides along as gracefully as the gull described in the lyrics. On the instrumental break, cello and guitar lines follow and circle each other like birds in formation, giving a subtle new dimension to the words. Throughout this CD, Rathbone shows a remarkable knack for this kind of synergistic songcraft. The arrangements are taut yet spacious, occasionally dressed up with masterful cello work by coproducer David Henry, and the recording eschews flashy studio gimmicks; it simply lets you inside the songs and leaves you humming the choruses, especially on cuts like the title track and Lookin' for Me. Most importantly, it captures key sonic details, such as the crack of the snare and the crunchy tone of Rathbone's Gibson ES-125, edging the songs toward the rock side of folk-rock. (Zakz,

The Performing Songwriter

- October, 2007 Joe Rathbone, Under the Scorpio Moon Given the title of Joe Rathbone's third album, it's hard to believe the wayfaring artist has stood still long enough to enjoy any lunar sightings. A Philadelphia native, Rathbone's made his way from New York to Atlanta, working as a wedding singer and music teacher, and now calls Nashville home. But don't think that his time in the trenches providing tunes for father-daughter dances makes him comparable to a castoff from an Adam Sandler flick. Rathbone's songs mix melodic, heartland rock with atmospheric flourishes, calling to mind Tom Petty and Joseph Arthur. Tracks such as "Mercury" and "Beautiful Noise" incorporate inventive sonic landscapes, but even among the samples and grooves, Rathbone's inviting, often tender vocals keep the proceedings human and heartfelt. For an artist who's seemingly chased his musical muse across the Eastern seaboard, Rathbone's an engaging, burgeoning talent who has his feet firmly planted on this Moon. - Jesse Thompson

Album Review - The Mercy Alliance - Some Kind of Beautiful Story Artist: The Mercy Alliance Album: Some Kind of Beautiful Story Review by: Heath Andrews 5/09/2014

The Mercy Alliance is one of those rare bands that can find and maintain a happy balance between driving rhythms, serene songwriting, and engaging yet ethereal arrangements.  This is due in no small part to the group’s core member, singer-songwriter/guitarist Joe Rathbone. Along with a team of highly talented session musicians, Rathbone’s The Mercy Alliance has generated a remarkably strong indie pop/rock album in the form of 2014’s Some Kind of Beautiful Story.  Joining Rathbone are drummers David Lopez and former Counting Crows member, Steve Bowman, bassist Brad Jones, and producer/keyboardist, Thomas Johansen.  Worth noting from the get go is that whether it’s Lopez or Bowman on drums, the dynamic they form with Jones is tremendous.  And Rathbone himself takes a unique approach to the guitar, often substituting distinct solos for effect laden atmospheres.  This creates an album that can be as driving as it is moody as it is melodic, all tied into a definitively indie pop style. “Washington” is perhaps the most straightforward track on the album and while not quite indicative of the sound of the record in general; it is a lovely song to open with.  Rathbone’s voice is very pleasing and soothing, well matched by the beautiful jangle of the backing guitars.  The bass is also very prominent, pushing the song forward even more so than the drums; a good decision considering the tone of the piece.  Actually the tone’s somewhat reminiscent of America; think along the lines of “Ventura Highway.” More in line with the album’s general feel is “All For the Love of You.” Here we’re exposed to the layered guitars and keyboards that give the piece a different kind of feel; like a poppier version of Radiohead or the more experimental side of U2.  The rapid drumming and thumping bass keep the song moving forward, but it’s a combination of the vocals and keys that actually deliver the songs sense of melody. Rathbone’s guitar churns and drones, creating a certain energy upon which the vocals and keys charge themselves. Just past the album’s midpoint is a back to back dose of beautifully rich arrangements with a melancholic touch.  “This is How They Know” and “I Can’t Do It” both feature string arrangements by David Henry, and they’re more compelling for it. Even without the strings, each song would be stirring in its own right, especially on the latter given its organ like keyboards and engaging lyrical hook.  The former has a deeper vocal from Rathbone, one that resonates more with the stronger bass.  But each of the tracks finds their singer more morose and reflective; an emotion that’s enhanced by the strings.  On a different end of the emotional spectrum comes “Libertine,” a fairly stomping song that’s as rocking as they get here but it still holds up in the context of the album overall.  Rathbone’s guitar work is more aggressive, coming into the forefront to deliver a series of dirty, bluesy licks in a way we don’t normally hear him play. So not only does it reveal his depth as a guitarist, but it also leads to a powerfully compelling piece of songwriting. The closing track, “Drifting In” is an interesting note to end on, considering its mixture of relaxed vocals and tense guitar work.  At the heart of the song is a very relaxed, ethereal vocal performance.  As the title suggests, the singer does seem to drift through the piece, and the bass and drums are fairly unwavering in their methodical beat; something that helps further the almost trance inducing nature of the music.  However, lurking behind all of it is a whirring of guitar that often develops into a churning series of distorted, urgent lines.  We’re left with an odd combination of tones, one that is very passive, and the other that is forebodingly aggressive.  The synergy between them is quite effective, easing the listener into the setting but compelling them to remain alert to the song’s unique sound. The remainder of Some Kind of Beautiful Story is no less compelling than the aforementioned tracks.  The Mercy Alliance matches compelling songwriting with fantastic musicianship and sports one of the more powerful and entertaining rhythm sections in the indie pop world.  Some parallels could be drawn to bands like Coldplay, but even then, The Mercy Alliance has cultivated its own sound, backed by the writing talents of Joe Rathbone.  Some Kind of Beautiful Story is indeed beautiful, and with its high points on display, you won’t need to search long for the kind of beauty it has. Rating: 5 Stars (out of 5) Review by: Heath Andrews

Mad July - Lo Down review

- Ken Beasley

“Joe Rathbone has hit all the requisite points on the mid-tier alt/folk circuit; Mountain Stage, Starbucks compilation discs, etc, but where he’s ended up, with his most recent release Mad July, is tremendously well positioned in that critical radio-friendly zone, with a diverse mix of solidly written pop songs, and arrangements that are just different enough. FREE // 154 Ludlow Street (upstairs @ the Living Room)”

The Philadelphia Inquirer

- October 19, 2007 He's based in Nashville now, but when he sings "This Is Where I Come From," Joe Rathbone is talking about Philadelphia. It's here where he honed his now-considerable chops in the '90s. "This Is Where . . .," which mentions 69th Street, the Tower Theater and West Philly, comes from his new album, Under the Scorpio Moon, a set that again shows him to be a master pop craftsman. Sometimes buoyant, sometimes dreamy, and often with an undercurrent of melancholy, there's a classic feel to these 10 melodic tunes as Rathbone consistently finds the sweet spot that links catchiness and heart. - Nick Cristiano


By Steven Stone | June 2004

Joe Rathbone - I Can Hear The Windows of Your Heart Breaking

Zakz Records The trick to creating a perfect pop confection revolves around getting the mix between sweet and sour just right. Joe Rathbone's songs prove that he has the recipe down pat.  Every song on his second solo release, I Can Hear The Windows of Your Heart Breaking, displays a level of songwriting savvy usually associated with contemporary masters like Elvis Costello or Nick Lowe. Rathbone's songs are both fresh and familiar, groundbreaking yet classic. Great pop music requires that songs be mated with performances and arrangements that "deliver" the music. Joe Rathbone's voice, with its strong falsetto, reminds me of Joe Jackson grafted onto Brian Wilson. The arrangements echo back to the Knack, Beatles, Todd Rundgren, and ELO. Layered musical textures combining dual keyboard and guitar solos, all mated with crunchy electric guitar sounds, make every song a sonic treat, a rocky road ice cream bar full of complementary tastes. Every song displays an attention to sonic detail that borders on excessive. No song escapes getting the star treatment complete with cleverly multi-tracked and carefully processed vocals. But all this studio effort succeeds spectacularly. Instead of sounding fussy and rarefied, the final result yields vibrant yet sophisticated rock and roll. Obviously producer/engineer David Henry should share in the kudos for this album. All the songs were recorded in his studio. Without his superb production skills and extensive hours of production time this album couldn't have turned out as sonically stellar as it has. Other members of the David family also contributed their skills. Brother Jeff, played Cello, bass, and mandolin, while his twin brother Ned added violin parts. The only other musician was Craig Wright on drums and percussion. Joe Rathbone handled all guitars, piano, keyboards, and vocals besides writing all the songs. Whew. I'm a jaded old sod. On average I listen to ten new CDs per week. Although I listen to everything that comes in the mail chute, many releases get only a perfunctory listen because they don't have the musical substance to grab me. I Can Hear The Windows of Your Heart Breaking was an exception. It caught me within the first ten seconds and didn't let go till the last cut. Great pop music can do that. I Can Hear The Windows of Your Heart Breaking has the right stuff.