Simon Joyner
Credit: courtesy of the artist

If things look bleak to you, Omaha-based singer-songwriter Simon Joyner won’t contradict you, but he might complicate your understanding of the darkness. The narrator of “Caroline’s Got a Secret,” the first cut on his new LP, Songs From a Stolen Guitar (Grapefruit), seems blind to the fact that the confidence he’s breaking involves Caroline’s suicidal depression. He recounts her plans and justifications without comment, leaving it to the listener to register the tragedy that Caroline is too anhedonic to appreciate the beauties and potentialities of the life she wants to leave.

The album’s closing epic, “In the Morning Light,” relates a series of past mistakes and extinction-size impending calamities linked by a common thread of bad human judgment, but it also allows that renewal is just a sunrise away. Joyner, who’s been making records for 30 years, tells his tales with enviable craftsmanship, and there’s a crack in his well-worn voice that makes you feel for all his characters—even the ones you wouldn’t leave untended around your stuff. This month Joyner returns to Chicago with his latest group, the Echoes, which includes bassist and violist Meghan Siebe, guitarist and bassist Sean Pratt, and drummer and keyboardist Mychal Marasco. Their multi-instrumental capacities should do ample justice to the sparse, mostly acoustic arrangements that Joyner has favored on his past couple records. Local singer Jessica Risker opens.

Simon Joyner Jessica Risker opens. Tue 7/19, 9:30 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, $12, 21+