Cited as a key influence by Conor Oberst (of Bright Eyes) and Beck, Omaha, Nebraska native and singer/songwriter Simon Joyner has been putting out delicate, intimate, mournful songs since the early '90s. Staunchly independent, Joyner opted out of working with managers, booking agents, and publicists and focused on songcraft first, resulting in a wealth of brilliant albums like 2015's Grass, Branch & Bone.
Joyner was born in 1971 and settled in Omaha. He was recording collections of his songs by the early '90s and released his first widely available album in 1993, when the One Hour label released his Room Temperature CD. The decade was prolific for the songwriter, as he released a plethora of albums, 7"s, and EPs, including proper albums like 1995's Heaven's Gate and 1999's The Lousy Dance, a collaborative 7" with The Mountain Goats, and much more. Joyner's profile expanded considerably when legendary, taste-making DJ John Peel played his 1994 album The Cowardly Traveller Pays His Toll in its entirety on his BBC show. In 2001, along with his band the Fallen Men, Joyner released To Almost No One, a tribute to ten singer/songwriters, including Paul Siebel, Anne Briggs, Kris Kristofferson, and Jerry Jeff Walker. The bleak but critically lauded Hotel Lives arrived that same year, followed by the equally introspective Lost with the Lights On in 2004. A compilation of singles and rarities, Beautiful Losers was released in 2006, as was Skeleton Blues from Jagjaguwar. In 2008, Joyner released Cowardly Traveller Pays His Toll on Team Love and Out Into the Snow followed on the same label in 2009. It wouldn't be until 2012 that the normally prolific Joyner would release another album, but that year's double-disc Ghosts saw him backed by a full band. The next year, New Secrets emerged, the second collaboration between Joyner and Shrimper Records founder Dennis Callaci following their 2004 EP Stranger Blues. After a long absence, Joyner returned with the contemplative, downbeat Grass, Branch & Bone in 2015. Joyner processed the historic and disruptive American election of 2016 as the microcosm, looking through the fictional lives of its citizens to get beneath the hype and smoke of mass media. Working with longtime collaborator Michael Krassner at Omaha's ARC Studio, he recorded 13 songs, including the epic, suite-like closer "I Dreamed I Saw Lou Reed Last Night." (On the vinyl version it took up an entire side.) The finished album, Step Into the Earthquake, was issued by Ba Da Bing in the fall of 2017. After the usual touring cycle, he returned two years later with Pocket Moon.