In a digital age when songs are increasingly sold by the single-serving individual download, Real Things is an honest-to-goodness album. Joe has effectively assembled a set of songs (from a variety of different writers) that hang together thematically, musically and philosophically.
Throughout Real Things, Joe explores the craving for authenticity and the desire to reach beyond surface reality and locate the truth of the matter. Even the raucous “Let’s Get Drunk and Fight,” while delivering the irreverent fun the title suggests, echoes the theme of moving past pretense and toward bare honesty.
The prevailing musical mood is calm and contemplative, with a light touch that allows the songs to breathe and Joe’s voice to shine. By the time Real Things closes with a graceful take on Blaze Foley’s 1979 classic “If I Could Only Fly” featuring Lee Ann Womack, it’s clear that Joe has created a specimen of the very object he’s been singing about: the real thing.