With the Tarbox Ramblers, the rollicking band he put together 20 years ago with a revolving cast of musicians, Michael Tarbox has been a historic preservationist of sorts. He writes and records original music, but the group’s style has been rooted in decades of American music, from primitive blues and barroom rock to unvarnished Appalachian folk and countrified soul. As its raucous ringleader, Tarbox established a reputation for being a raconteur who wielded a wild guitar.
It was a surprise, then, to hear him turn so introspective on 2009’s “My Primitive Joy,” his debut solo album, which turned down the volume and revealed a more tender side to Tarbox’s songwriting. Mostly acoustic with the homespun feel of demo recordings, it presented him as Tarbox the troubadour.