jonathan pointer
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jonathan pointer

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"Love Songs from the Outskirts of Bliss"

With his second record, Love Songs From the Outskirts of Bliss, Jonathan Pointer produces haunting portraits of love, self-doubt, and the passage of time, all delivered with a wit, wisdom, and sense of craft and focus that sets him apart from the usual pack of singer/songwriters. Pointer 's songs -- dour yet droll, self-effacing yet confident -- illustrate life's contradictions with candor and grace, whether caught up in self-examination, trying to mend a broken heart/home, or rationalizing the realizations of either. And while he'd like "a little adoration" from others, about the best he can muster on his own behalf is mere acceptance. Pointer will occasionally go for the big emotional moment, but more often than not he settles for the smaller ones, and it's these which leave the most lasting impressions. Musically, it's these same sorts of subtleties that create the perfect aural atmosphere for the material, which is primarily built around his understated, superb guitar. Every little touch, from the Kurt Weill -like violin, guitar, and accordion interplay of "Washington St." to ambient electric guitars, or even a ukelele solo, is always in the service of the song. Pointer owns a hoarse baritone that brings to mind early Tom Waits , whose influence is apparent on one of the album's best tracks, the carney-inspired "Arcadia," with it's cast of sideshow freaks and whores. But it's another similarity to Waits that helps make Love Songs so good. Pointer draws inspiration from various points on the musical map to create something that is not only special, but his own. Self-produced, along with Crit Harmon, Love Songs From the Outskirts of Bliss is a truly impressive second outing -- poignant, intelligent, and sophisticated.
-Brett Hartenbach, All Music Guide - All Music Guide

"Jonathan Pointer, Scarecrows Burn"

This collection by guitarist Jonathan Pointer is one of the best CDs to come down the singer-songwriter pike in quite a while. Pointer creates scenarios and images that are at turns striking ("Scarecrows Burn"), deeply poetic ("The Sea Tonight"(), and surreal ("The Baby Smokers"). Throughout, his guitar style is fluid and minimalist, calling to mind acoustic Bruce Springsteen or Lyle Lovett. Many of the songs move so slowly that you might almost be listening to him create the music before your very ears.
-Steve Givens, Acoustic Guitar, June 1998 - Acoustic Guitar Magazine

"Jonathan Pointer, Scarecrows Burn"

Jonathan Pointer's "Scarecrows Burn" will remind some of the early (unaffected) work of Tom Waits or possibly Willis Alan Ramsey and Randy Newman. Part of that is Pointer's conversational delivery, as well as his wry humor and penchant for small, revealing details. There's also the musical underpinning. On some songs, Pointer creates a funk stew that he lets simmer rather than bring it to a boil. Elsewhere, viola, accordion and mandolin accompaniment create a Left Bank chamber-folk charm.
A good example is "Yard Sale," which cloaks its mundane topic in a palpably sad turn-of-the-century melody. The Iyrics (written with Fred Koller) suggest a clutter of bitter reminders "I'm gonna sleep until quarter to nine on a mattress that's yours for five dollars," . Pointer mopes, noting that "it's firm but it's two times too wide, I'm looking for something that's quite a bit smaller." Later, he offers "clothes -- a dollar a pound/ I'm keepin' these flannel pajamas cause/cold nights are gonna seem colder somehow."
Memories of failed relationships also give a bittersweet edge to the title track and to the slow burn of "Smells Like Love," while "Ascension Day" examines the bonds of old friendships after they've been shattered by time and distance. Several songs evince a romantic melancholy. "The Sea Tonight" is a prayer for the souls of lost seamen, while "Gauloise Blue (Smokin' the Night Away)" operates in a familiar haze of solitude and sorrow.
In the cathartic "Psalms of Owen Tabor," Pointer creates a haunting and haunted barroom poet who. . .
Reads his scriptures from the seat
of a rusted bar stool
A gospel of the spirits
O'the crippled & the blind ... he
takes Communion
And names his saints for any
man who will raise a pint of
And listen to the words that bleed
from four-by-four-inch napkins
A verse or two should prove
beyond a doubt
Owen came to flush the demons out."

Lest he typecast as a gloomy Gus, Pointer also comes up with one of the most hilarious, surreal and subversive tunes in recent memory, "The Baby Smokers." With a sneakily jaunty harmonica driven melody and a wink in his voice, Pointer paints a world in which "it's the bestest way for you to keep a little baby calm/roll him up a snack of some nice tobacco/somethin' that the baby likes . . . " If you're not coughing, you'll be laughing out loud. - The Washington Post

"Pointer, Scarecrows Burn"

Pointer, a.k.a. Jonathan Pointer, gets a lot of comparisons to Tom Waits. The both have that low gruff voice, they both Ă‘dabble with classic pop melodies and characters a little left of normal. But to others he may sound more like Robbie Robertson. Either way, it's good company.

Both of those aforementioned writers would probably be proud to have written "Psalms Of Owen Taylor''. Taylor is a bar- room disciple who Pointer describes with heartbreaking elegance: He prays to no one/but dreams of an angel, wings afire/drifting slowly to the ground/to lay amid the ironweed, black lace and loveless passion/like frozen earth beneath a rusted plow/love's the curse that Owen lives without" And there's so much more where that came from.

In the title track, Pointer creates the image of burning scarecrows in a cornfield to mourn two lovers who have parted. "Yard Sale" is another take on love's aftermath. As he lists the reasons for seeing each article, you realize he's lost his girl and now wants to lose everything else. His casual wit is most evident in "The Baby Smokers", in which he declares tobacco is "the bestest way for you to keep a little baby calm."

Every song on Scarecrows Burn unfolds into something deeper and unexpected. Maybe that's not good in a day when songs are mostly filler to sell ads by, but for true music lovers, Pointer is a godsend.
-Performing Songwriter, November/December 1997 - Performing Songwriter

"Jonathan Pointer, Scarecrows Burn"

While an Original, Jonathan Pointer runs, musically speaking, in thc same circles as Tom Waits and Randy Ncwman. A wry satirist, Pointcr's penchant is the heartland: yard sales, men firmly planted on barstools and highways disappearing into the horizon. With a deadpan delivery, Pointer's humorous "The Baby Smokers" presents the oddball tale of a town where all the tots light up nicotine soothers. "It's the bestest way for you to keep a little baby calm/ roll him up a snack of some nice tobacco/ somethin' that the baby likes." Building on folk, blues and country, Scarecrows Burn is purposefully low-key. While Pointer carries a full band on most of the songs, his songwriting is clearly what is important here. Pointer doesn't disappoint. A truly impressive debut.
-(PH), Dirty Linen - Dirty Linen


scarecrows burn, 1996
love songs from the outskirts of bliss, 2001



Jonathan Pointer is a son of Missouri. Raised and educated by Methodists, his early years were spent "drawing pictures, playing the trombone and making stuff up." He has been a soda-jerk and a dog-catcher, pumped gas and delivered pizzas. He has sold everything from shoes to meat on a spiritual quest that has taken him from state run mental facilities to Carnegie Hall.

It is from such life experiences that Pointer draws the frequently off-centered, always provocative and often surprisingly touching stories that are his music. It is a world of burning scarecrows, innocent men and yard sales; of bar-room poets, paranoid lovers, and tattooed women. The ALL MUSIC GUIDE says, "Pointer produces haunting portraits of love, self-doubt, and the passage of time, all delivered with a wit, wisdom, and sense of craft and focus that sets him apart from the usual pack of singer/songwriters." Perhaps DIRTY LINEN put it best: "Pointer doesn't disappoint."