The totems on the cover of Congo, the newest album by English guitarist C Joynes, look like images from some mid-20th century textbook … but looks can be deceiving. They’re actually the knickknacks that sat on top of his stereo speakers while he mixed the record, and neither came from the Congo. A few years back, Joynes explained to Dusted his notion of authenticity, and it had nothing to do with fidelity to folk forms. "For music to be authentic, then it should be sincere: that is, written and performed with a true sense of pleasure.”
I suspect that Joynes had a hoot making this record. His last album was a solo affair; this time he got his pals Dominick Lash, Patrick Farmer, Simon Loynes and Richard Partridge to help out with a trunk-load of drums, strings and wind instruments. Mostly associated with the guitar, he brought on board a bunch of instruments that he either made at home -- such as an electric mbira devised from bicycle spokes and a varnish can -- or bought on eBay. Put simply, he got to hang out and play. And once his buddies went home, he played some more, creatively mixing these elements to make music that’s as rooted in dub and jazz as it is in Morris dancing. On “Joseph In The Sea Of Corn,” for example, birdsong, feedback and a marimba playing a different melody tumble out of holes in the rustic banjo theme, much like that cow recording that Lee Perry liked to use in the Black Ark days.
But while Joynes may be playing around, he is no mere dabbler. The guy’s got an ear for a tune, whether it’s one that he’s written or one that he’s copped from an Indian movie soundtrack, and he knows how to sell it; he has the finger-picking skills to make the strings sing out that true sense of pleasure. This is hybrid, 21st century music that derives its authenticity from its faith to its maker’s intentions and its attractiveness from the skill with which he has realized them.