There's something oddly familiar about the first few cuts of Josh Joplin's latest release, The Future That Was. Chalk it up to flashes of the Beatles' heady post-Rubber Soul, pre-Sgt. Pepper's days, glimpses of a hungry young R.E.M. and echoes of an Attractions-backed Elvis Costello. Maybe Joplin owes his diverse approach to his transient lifestyle. Starting at age sixteen, he soaked up the scenery of Dylan's hometown of Hibbing, Minnesota; Phil Ochs' El Paso, Texas; and Woody Guthrie's Okemah, Oklahoma; spent extended stints in Denver and Atlanta, then finally settled in New York City. Whatever the reason, Joplin wears these influences like a badge of honor, offering up his inspired brand of melodic songwriting and detailed, paint-in-the-corners arranging as counterpoint to the current vogue of flash-and-thrash rock. I sound like Michael Stipe, and I dream like Carl Jung/I look just like a showgirl who sleeps with her makeup, Joplin proclaims proudly. I'm ready for the footlights to play the part I'm cast/I may not be a star, but I'm happy at last.