Today, New Jersey-born, now Brooklyn-based artist, Joe Taylor Sutkowski shares his new single, "Brother John." The single arriving as the second to be lifted from his forthcoming album, Of Wisdom & Folly, out this Friday, August 13 via Danger Collective Records. Sutkowski, who is known for his work fronting Dirt Buyer and playing under the Jotay moniker wrote the forthcoming ten-track record as a series of five different pairs of stories, each telling the tale of a different character.
While taking a run through pandemic-stricken Brooklyn in 2020, Sutkowski found himself inspired by the odd and visually appealing lyrics of Chocolate USA (a lesser-known project of Elephant 6 / Neutral Milk Hotel collaborator Julian Koster). The endearing depiction of a pretzel-headed schoolgirl named Sherry inspired a swirl of ideas and characters for Sutkowski, who wrote the first song – "Sherry Had a Pretzel Head" – for the record immediately after returning home from the run.
Joe's penchant for warm, emotive vocals and finger-picked guitar act as the bedrock for the forthcoming record; something that accentuates the array of authentic, earnest stories which are at times funny and other times sad. Tracks arrive with mirror tracks and this new single, "Brother John" and its accompanying piece, "Ada, Take the Socks Off the Bed" present perhaps the most moving pair on Of Wisdom & Folly. There is the song about Ada, an individual hopelessly lost within her own depression and sadness and "Brother John", a song about Ada's sibling who, unwittingly, is a burden on Ada and the driving force behind her mental health.
“It’s supposed to be vague and make you feel strange, but also at ease,” Sutkowski says, “but I express many real feelings through the medium of characters and their stories.” The performances on the album feel connected to its content and vulnerability, with ominous outros and the inclusion of imperfect studio moments that create a tangible intimacy.
In addition to its precise instrumentation, Of Wisdom & Folly showcases Sutkowski’s ability to paint colorful and defined lyrical illustrations, while maintaining a creative voice and vision that keeps the album grounded. Though the album’s puzzling nature often feels like a dream, the perspectives of the characters are lively, heartbreaking, and ultimately human.