There is something hauntingly familiar about Simon Joyner's Lost With the Lights On. But it's not because it reminds you of one of his own records. If anything, Joyner has never been more forceful than he is here. His eye has turned reportorial, he observes through his melancholy and sees it blossoming like desert flowers under the moonlight. With Fred Lonberg-Holm, Eric Keywood, Michael Krassner, Wil Hendricks, and Jim White, Joyner moves over to the photographic side of his memory, finding meaning in the gestures of others: a look, a glance, the hint of a smile, the way the wind moved through the trees or how someone sat in a chair. All of these moments are loaded with meaning for Joyner as he traipses through rock, country, folk, blues and waltzes with a ragged, haggard grace, and a world-weariness worthy of Townes Van Zandt coupled with the poetic sensibilities of Leonard Cohen. These are not idle comparisons, nor are they merely frames of reference, they are places of (dis)location and world view. Joyner doesn't write or sing like either man, however, he has the ability to see and report form the front lines of the same countries they once traveled through. Joyner's latest songs are so peopled with transcendent yet personal archetypes they are almost holy, and don't deserve to be taken apart in some beleaguered scribe's CD review. And perhaps that is what's familiar and disconcerting, simultaneously: Joyner is part of a dying breed of songwriters who seemingly care less about relativism and try to get to that place in their work where we can all find a place in it, a place from which to see, if not speak. This is moving, tender, honest, and unflinchingly brave music. Simon Joyner is one of our most literate and empathetic songwriters, and Lost With the Lights On is among his most satisfying offerings.