|Joe Henry – Reverie (2011)|
Joe Henry – Reverie
Birth name: Joseph Lee Henry
Location: California, United States
Genres: Alt-country, folk, jazz, soul
Record Label: ANTI
Release date: October 11, 2011
01. Heaven’s Escape
03. After The War
04. Sticks & Stones
05. Grand Street
06. 06. Dark Tears
08. Tomorrow Is October
09. Piano Furnace
10. Deathbed Versions
11. Room At Arles
12. Eyes Out For You
14. The World And All I Know
HENRY is an acclaimed solo artist with 12 critically heralded albums to his credit including 2009’s masterful Blood From Stars. He is also a multi Grammy winning producer with credits that include Solomon Burke’s 2002 album Don’t Give Up On Me, which won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Album as well as works by esteemed artists such as Bettye LaVette, Mose Allison, Aimee Mann and Ani DiFranco, and an additional Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Album with the 2010 album by the Carolina Chocolate Drops.
HENRY’s new album Reverie is an all-acoustic production, though also a raw and raucous and messy affair. As HENRY explains, “I knew it should be stripped and lean but not demur, sonically speaking; in black and white, but not without red blood in its veins.”
- Talk of Heaven (1986)
- Murder of Crows (1989)
- Shuffletown (August 31, 1990)
- Short Man's Room (June 16, 1992)
- Kindess of the World (September 28, 1993)
- Fireman's Wedding EP (February 15, 1994)
- Trampoline (March 26, 1996)
- Fuse (March 9, 1999)
- Scar (May 15, 2001)
- Tiny Voices (September 23, 2003)
- Civilians (September 11, 2007)
- Blood From Stars (August 18, 2009)
- Reverie (October 11, 2011)
Henry is married, since 1987, to Melanie Ciccone, sister of Madonna. Henry's wife talked him into letting her send Madonna a demo of his song "Stop", which was reworked and recorded as "Don't Tell Me" (from Madonna's 2000 album Music). Henry's own tango-tinged version of the song appeared on Scar and was featured in an episode of "The Sopranos". Henry and his sister-in-law recorded a duet, "Guilty By Association", on the charity album Sweet Relief II: Gravity of the Situation, and collaborated on the songs "Jump" on Confessions on a Dance Floor and "Devil Wouldn't Recognize You" on Hard Candy.
Joe Henry has never been easy to pin down. In a career spanning more than two decades, he’s had his hands in a bit of everything, from gospel, folk and country to experimental rock and pop, soul and funk. But throughout his years of sonic shapeshifting, Henry has maintained a singular voice defined by his love of strange, almost magical spaces. His songs, regardless of the form they take, always seem to drift through shadows and fog.
Joe Henry’s latest album, Reverie, is no exception. On the surface, it’s a straight-up roots record: a mix of acoustic songs steeped in the spirit of early-20th-century ragtime and blues. They stagger and strut woozily across dusty floors on sultry nights, and there’s a creaky wooden circus echoing from the edge of town. But, as with most of Henry’s work, things are rarely what they seem.
Much of the mystery in Joe Henry’s music is suggested in the production more than any particular line or melody. Henry recorded Reverie in his basement studio and left the windows literally wide open. You can hear the street sounds — a barking dog, birds chirping, lazy traffic — throughout the album. He captured these songs as loosely as possible, in their rawest form, with no studio trickery. As a result, the music rattles and trembles, and feels as though it could break apart at any moment.
Henry also stokes the mystery with beautifully seductive narratives and themes. Much of Reverie is haunted by the elusive, transformative passing of time. Beauty fades, friends and lovers are lost, the world fills with despair and grows weary under its own weight. In one song, “Room at Arles,” Henry recalls his friend Vic Chesnutt, a brilliant but troubled artist who took his own life after years of battling depression.
Joe Henry has spent a lifetime helping other musicians find their voices, producing some of the most memorable albums from Aimee Mann, Aaron Neville, Betty LaVette and many others. But his finest and most arresting work has always been his own. Reverie is Henry’s 12th full-length album and possibly his best. If there’s a restlessness in his music, it settles, if only for a moment, on this beguiling and beautifully disheveled collection.
Kings Road Official Store: http://www.kingsroadmerch.com/anti-records/view/?id=2597&cid=60
Joe Henry at The Garfield House / January 14, 2009 / Author: Julian Cubillos
Camera manufacturer: NIKON CORPORATION
Camera model: NIKON D40
Exposure time: 1/30 sec (0.033333333333333)
ISO speed rating: 800
Date and time of data generation: 16:56, 14 January 2009
Lens focal length: 62 mm
Horizontal resolution: 300 dpi
Vertical resolution: 300 dpi
Software used: Ver.1.11
Author: Lauren Dukoff
Friday, March 5, 2010
Great American Music Hall
Better than: A musical supergroup featuring Raymond Carver, Flannery O'Connor, and Tennessee Williams.
"I know that sounds like thunder," Joe Henry writes in the sleeve notes to his new album, Blood from Stars, of the giant marching drum played by Jay Bellerose. "Or a great sack of walnuts dropped on the hood of a Crown Victoria." During his show Friday night at the Great American, that antique percussion instrument rumbled, sometimes ominously and sometimes elegiacally, through an all-too-short performance of uplifting but often-lonesome songs.
Henry and his band ambled onstage and the singer-songwriter strapped on a small Gibson acoustic guitar and launched into "Bellwether," from the new album. His voice is a croon that sometimes cracks, but he makes the most of it. He lurched away from the microphone to let his words trail off, even though those words are worth hearing. Like other American chroniclers Paul K. and Mark Eitzel, Henry tells stories of love, loss, regret, and life.
"I sing a lot of dark, confusing songs in a minor key," he explained. "Apart from the shoes" - he gestured to his shiny footwear - "we're gonna try to keep the showbiz out of the show tonight." Indeed, the sedately dressed audience - lots of men with good hair, wearing sharp jackets, and aging well, much like Henry himself -- would have been disappointed at anything else. With no boozed-up young troublemakers to deal with, bouncers leaned idly against the walls, while bartenders took no orders for rounds of shots.
With that huge, booming drum and occasional guitar or piano crescendos, Henry's music sometimes sounded menacing or mournful. But the Great American was transformed into a cozy haven, with muted chandelier lights reflecting the warmth of faces turned raptly toward the stage. It felt like an intimate living room show.
Henry's band -- longtime keyboardist Patrick Warren, percussionist Bellerose, and double bassist David Piltch -- conjured up a spare, often jazzy sound, with lots of spaces between the instruments. Opener Dayna Stephens joined them onstage for several songs, adding his soaring saxophone to "Bellwether" and "Truce," tunes that, on record, are played by Henry's teenage son, Levon.
When Henry sat and pounded at the grand piano, he noted that playing and singing simultaneously was like "driving and scaling a small fish ... but I'm hungry!" He described "Lighthouse" (from 2003's Tiny Voices) as "sort of my version of 'I Got a Woman.'" Blood from Stars opener "The Man I Keep Hid" was a twisted carnival Waitsian stumbler, with Henry repeating the unsettling line "Somebody used my mouth to laugh out loud" over the roiling fairground music.
The songwriter explained that he played a "familial game of rock paper scissors" with Madonna (his sister-in-law, whom he described wryly as "a singer from Detroit") over his song "Stop" (from 2001's Scar), which she revamped into "Don't Tell Me." As he noted to much laughter, "I recorded my version as a tango; she recorded hers as a hit." As he played it, it started as a gentle vamp, but ended in a loud racket that sounded like all the instruments colliding.
"Our Song," from 2007's Civilians, started with Henry at the piano, using the image of baseball legend Willie Mays at a branch of Home Depot to tell a story of America's decline, but with a glimmer of hope: "This was our country, this was our song/Somewhere in the middle there, though it started badly and it's ending up wrong."
After a brief encore, which ended with a couple of verses from Cole Porter's "I Got You Under My Skin" that sounded like a lament rather than a celebration, the band slipped offstage and into the night. Henry may tell mournful tales, but how can you not love a musician whose web site is titled JoeHenryLovesYouMadly.com?
Personal Bias: Joe Henry might be one of music's best-kept secrets. He has recorded 11 solo albums in 25 years. He produces other musicians (recently winning a Grammy for his work on the latest Ramblin' Jack Elliott album; he has also worked with Bettye LaVette, Ornette Coleman, and Solomon Burke, to name just a few). He's a wordsmith who writes thoughtful and evocative lyrics and blog posts.
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