12 Songs, 55 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

1993‘s Kindness of the World was Joe Henry’s last full album as a roots-rock balladeer, before his music dropped the twang and took off in new sonic directions. Backed by a pair of Jayhawks, with Victoria Williams adding her off-kilter little-girl harmonies on the title track, the music sounds a lot like some of the Midwestern bands from alt-country’s first bloom, featuring ringing, spacious guitar textures, mournful pedal steel, and a tastefully produced blend of acoustic and electric instruments. What sets Henry apart is his subtle and lyrical songwriting, guided by the keen eye of a novelist and a poet’s ear for what to leave out. Case in point: “Fireman’s Wedding,” whose joyously jangly guitars almost let you forget the darkness in the corner of the frame: “Let’s pretend that we’ll all live long enough/ To grow weary and mean then retire / As if all news will be good news from now on.” Elsewhere, the classic honky-tonk weeper “She Always Goes” dovetails beautifully with the album’s cover of a Tom T. Hall lament, “I Flew Over Our House Last Night.” Kindness of the World is a classic of the genre.

EDITORS’ NOTES

1993‘s Kindness of the World was Joe Henry’s last full album as a roots-rock balladeer, before his music dropped the twang and took off in new sonic directions. Backed by a pair of Jayhawks, with Victoria Williams adding her off-kilter little-girl harmonies on the title track, the music sounds a lot like some of the Midwestern bands from alt-country’s first bloom, featuring ringing, spacious guitar textures, mournful pedal steel, and a tastefully produced blend of acoustic and electric instruments. What sets Henry apart is his subtle and lyrical songwriting, guided by the keen eye of a novelist and a poet’s ear for what to leave out. Case in point: “Fireman’s Wedding,” whose joyously jangly guitars almost let you forget the darkness in the corner of the frame: “Let’s pretend that we’ll all live long enough/ To grow weary and mean then retire / As if all news will be good news from now on.” Elsewhere, the classic honky-tonk weeper “She Always Goes” dovetails beautifully with the album’s cover of a Tom T. Hall lament, “I Flew Over Our House Last Night.” Kindness of the World is a classic of the genre.

TITLE TIME

More By Joe Henry

You May Also Like