Joseph Arthur changed his tune a bit for his Troubadour shows, and that new song sounded sweet. The reliable singer-songwriter has put together a band featuring some of L.A.’s finest studio players — composer-producer Jon Brion and drummer Matt Chamberlain, who’s played with everyone from Tori Amos to Pearl Jam, and violinist Joan Wasser, all of whom added subtlety and resonance to songs from Arthur’s most recent record, “Our Shadows Will Remain” (Vector).
Brion added complex organ and keyboards to Arthur’s loose arrangements, perfectly complementing Arthur’s jagged vocals and careful plucking on “Wasted” and adding heft to the opener, “Echo Park.” On Arthur’s slower, more depressing material, Chamberlain found pockets to open up the wounds Arthur’s vocals explored, adding a bit of cymbal or a constant thrum from his floor tom to make the bite bitter.
But it was Wasser (who opened the show as Joan as Police Woman) who stood out in this band. Through lengthy extensions of Arthur’s best songs (as in the title track to “Come to Where I’m From”), Wasser diligently watched Arthur, Brion and Chamberlain and found where she was needed, whether it was with one-hit accents or an intense solo. Though Arthur does just fine on his own, with a band his songs blossomed, becoming bigger — and more emotional — than his solo versions.