As highlighted in my review of Bringing in the Darlings, the reason for a lot of the darkness in this album stems from his relationship with his wife at the time. Not all of it refers to his personal life, but I know from speaking to Josh after a gig in the Belfast museum, that his marriage breakdown meant the this was a more difficult recording and coloured some of the album tone.
Personally I prefer the previous two albums, but still think that this shows an amazing jump in maturity of verse from Josh. He has always been adept at spinning different meanings from his word play and has a rye sense of humour,but here is a more haunting "American Gothic" tone with major hints of Poe and Samuel Clements, as reflected by direct reference in the songs.
In person he is a warm outgoing human being with a sincere air about him and I encourage you to listen to his lyrics repeatedly to hear those hints of how all was not well with him at that time.
The new album is a blatant biography of his eventual marriage breakdown and this he personally states on his official web page.
Call this the precursor.
A very personal album that is not always easy listening, but never below very good!,