13 Songs, 57 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Anyone familiar with Joe Henry’s sophisticated singer-songwriting should be prepared for the noir-scapes, the visits to the back corner of the bar, the pianos that tinkle in boozy reflection, the unusual instruments that pop up on occasion to give the music an appropriate weirdness and, of course, Henry’s lyrical reflections that often ponder things under such abstract conditions that analyzing the words only leads to greater confusion. Sure, things fall apart and worlds collide, but don’t try this at home. “Each fuzzy word I send / returns a finer blade / to touch the thought balloon / of every plan I’ve laid,” sings Henry during the slow, dark chord progression of “Channel.” This, after already stating, “Nobody knows the man that I keep hid” on the previous track. Best not to question our narrator and instead enjoy the Spanish guitar touches (“This Is My Favorite Cage”), the clarinet and saxophones from Joe’s son Levon Henry (“Truce”), the confident beats from percussionist extraordinaire Jay Bellerose, and the twisted guitar notes from Marc Ribot. Some mysteries are best kept mysteries.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Anyone familiar with Joe Henry’s sophisticated singer-songwriting should be prepared for the noir-scapes, the visits to the back corner of the bar, the pianos that tinkle in boozy reflection, the unusual instruments that pop up on occasion to give the music an appropriate weirdness and, of course, Henry’s lyrical reflections that often ponder things under such abstract conditions that analyzing the words only leads to greater confusion. Sure, things fall apart and worlds collide, but don’t try this at home. “Each fuzzy word I send / returns a finer blade / to touch the thought balloon / of every plan I’ve laid,” sings Henry during the slow, dark chord progression of “Channel.” This, after already stating, “Nobody knows the man that I keep hid” on the previous track. Best not to question our narrator and instead enjoy the Spanish guitar touches (“This Is My Favorite Cage”), the clarinet and saxophones from Joe’s son Levon Henry (“Truce”), the confident beats from percussionist extraordinaire Jay Bellerose, and the twisted guitar notes from Marc Ribot. Some mysteries are best kept mysteries.

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Ratings and Reviews

4.1 out of 5
35 Ratings
35 Ratings
tjackl ,

This is what music is all about...

...having albums like this that break throught all the sludge and mindless music out there these days. Sure, I'm not going to say it's not ok to "like" some of the indie pop, faux disco booty beats, emo, etc. out there, but this is music you can truly "appreciate". On this album, Joe Henry returns somewhat to the sound he captured on Scar and Tiny Voices, only a little darker and edgier. His vocals sound as if he has a sinister smirk as he's singing. The percussion is more prominent, but more natural. The horns are mostly used as accents, as opposed to being in front as on previous albums. Sometimes they come across like a train in the smokey distance. There is some interesting use of old school hip-hop samples that appear in strange places and kind of add a creepiness to what's going on here. The album cover in itself is a perfect depiction of what this album conveys. I read a review elsewhere where someone said not to listen to this album alone. I recommend listening to it alone... in the dark... during a thunderstorm.

riverdeep ,

lost in passion

joe henry consistency delivers artful albums with passion. passion for the music, the musicians. he's a poet and i imagine he'll write a collection of short stories one day. his albums are always rich and i get lost in headphones daydreaming away to the lyrics and rythym.

post69dj ,

Joe Henry blows my mind

This is not your everyday music and that's why I like it. The orchestration here is sprawling and fairly epic. Henry's voice seems to be the only voice which could possibly suit the material, plaintive, brittle, confessional. Henry makes new standards, music which might come straight from Tin-Pan alley, but darker, reflecting all the confusion and psychic pain we moderns sense. This, along with Tiny Voices and Civilians, represents some of the very best peri-millennial music. Don't try it if you're not into complexity. Highly recommended. Keep 'em coming Mr Henry!

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