Simon Joyner

For nearly 15 years, The Cowardly Traveller Pays His Toll was a holy grail for Midwestern indie rock. Initially released on vinyl in an edition of 1,000 copies, this CD reissue on Conor Oberst’s Team Love imprint captures the Omaha, Neb., songwriter’s finest moments in all of its stark black and white glory. The crisp, clear presentations of noisy numbers “747” and “Joy Division” reveal new dimensions in the meltdown folk gems. A brittle and previously inaudible spurt of piano at the end of “I Went to Our Lady of Perpetual Healing” underscores subtle avant-garde leanings that elevate Joyner to a plane higher than that of the average singer/songwriter. The Cowardly Traveller sounds as fresh and compelling as it did the day it was penned. 5 stars.