Coming quickly on the heels of the darkly determined Istanbul/Fog of War, By The Time Your Rocket Gets To Mars finds Jerry Joseph rekindling his better known signature style, one that’s equal parts rock ‘n’ roll with a profoundly populist stance. Joseph took a dire world view on Istanbul/Fog of War, a reflection of the sobering circumstance he witnessed firsthand while visiting a series of refugee camps in the Middle East. Having vetted his concerns, he now seems a little less encumbered, singing songs that may not exactly feel celebratory at their essence, but come across, by comparison, as uplifting and inspired.
That’s borne out in the album’s opening moments. The solid one-two punch of “Cosmic” and “Giraffe” quickly sets the tone, giving Joseph and his crew ample opportunity to rock out with full frenzy. Still, if a party’s been prepped, it’s also scuttled almost immediately. The essence of the album that comes with the songs “A Really Heavy Feather” and “Mars” still sound subdued and tempered by turmoil. “Supernatural” finds Joseph returning to a former theme, specifically, the tragedy and tumult of the toll taken on innocents. “Digging it out of the dayglo/Seven more shades of the grey/All of the rules of the rainbow will only get in your way.” he sings in a desperate attempt to make some sense of it all.
Fortunately, Joseph’s spirit isn’t vanquished entirely. By the time he finds his stride via the relentless “Run To Me,” this Rocket is finally ignited. It’s then left to the lyrics of “One World At A Time” to offer his listeners some consolation: “Hold your hands together/Hold what’s in your heart.” The lesson is one of redemption; sometimes there’s hope even in the midst of chaos. Credit Jerry Joseph with his ability to look towards the light