12 Songs, 57 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Joe Henry’s tenth solo album Civilians continues the man’s nourishing appreciation for life. It’s a lonely night for the soul but one fused with wit and humor as the smallest details add up to a grander overview. With nightclub jazz in his voice and a ramshackle jackhammer rhythm, “Our Song” channels a dark vision for the future with things “ending wrong” despite running into Willie Mays in an Arizona Home Depot. Throughout the album, the musical touches are subtle but assured. Guitarist Bill Frisell adds his usual eerie, swooning guitar lines, while Henry scores strings with Van Dyke Parks and hammers at pianos with an intensity that underscores the existential torpor guiding these songs. “Scare Me to Death” has a cup filled with the “worst kind of hope.” “Civil War” is the sound of a man discovering the shadows that accompany the light. “I Will Write My Book” tries to find a constructive outlet for the inner rage. Henry, however, is the consummate professional and while he threatens to come unhinged, he manages to stay composed long enough to sound like a relatively rational man.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Joe Henry’s tenth solo album Civilians continues the man’s nourishing appreciation for life. It’s a lonely night for the soul but one fused with wit and humor as the smallest details add up to a grander overview. With nightclub jazz in his voice and a ramshackle jackhammer rhythm, “Our Song” channels a dark vision for the future with things “ending wrong” despite running into Willie Mays in an Arizona Home Depot. Throughout the album, the musical touches are subtle but assured. Guitarist Bill Frisell adds his usual eerie, swooning guitar lines, while Henry scores strings with Van Dyke Parks and hammers at pianos with an intensity that underscores the existential torpor guiding these songs. “Scare Me to Death” has a cup filled with the “worst kind of hope.” “Civil War” is the sound of a man discovering the shadows that accompany the light. “I Will Write My Book” tries to find a constructive outlet for the inner rage. Henry, however, is the consummate professional and while he threatens to come unhinged, he manages to stay composed long enough to sound like a relatively rational man.

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