Inspirational singer and songwriter J.W. Schuller is one of the premiere folk rockers of our era. The veteran musician has been playing guitar since 12 years of age. Since this time, Schuller has played in several rock bands and has been a delight to audiences far and wide. When his last band, U Joint, broke up after putting out a handful of records, he started playing volunteer gigs at old folks’ homes. Schuller is known for his unique style of melody and witty lyrical content. Schuller currently plays as a duo with his charming, bearded nephew Jens Larsen on drums and backing vocals. His new album No Mud In Joyville is a perfect expression of Schuller’s talent and genius.
No Mud in Joyville was produced, recorded and mixed at Underwood Studios in Minneapolis by Mark Stockert, who has worked with the likes of Brian Setzer, Charlie Parr, Dead Man Winter, Chastity Brown, Noah Levy, and Martin Devaney. The album consists of seven brilliant tracks that epitomizes Schuller’s approach.
The album opens with the breezy Caterpillars. This is a bright, yet smooth acoustic tune that is rich in its structure and groovy upbeat melody. Vocally, Schuller’s is really able to hold his own. Caterpillars is followed by the title track No Mud in Joyville. This is a really funky tune and is unique and message of a utopia that possesses a mudless environment.
Poor Little Us is a warm tune and its placement in the album’s sequence reveals the strong continuity of the project. Often times, acoustic-based music can sound repetitive. Remarkably, each track on the No Mud in Joyville takes us into its own dimension. Poor Little Us is a great example of this. God & Everybody is a very deep song of iconic meaning. Vocally, Schuller takes a Dylan approach to verse and prose that works fully.
Whisper in the Morning is an easy winner with its catchy acoustic rhythm. This tune also features some nice harmonies and backing vocals. Uncle Norm & the Ash Tree is a song filled with symbolism of family memories. No Mud in Joyville closes with Mental Checklist. Somewhat of a cynical way to end a great album, Mental Checklist marks the completion of a journey and an epic album.
Musically, No Mud in Joyville is a masterpiece. I found the album to be one of this year’s best. Schuller has found his niche in a sincere effort that is a delight for all. Thank you