Joe Henry: Blood From Stars (Anti)

 |   |  1 min read

Joe Henry: This is my Favourite Cage
Joe Henry: Blood From Stars (Anti)

There is something pointless and not a little depressing writing about another fine Joe Henry album: the 18 people who love his work probably already know of the album, and as for the rest . . . ?

I guess Henry is always destined to remain something of a private passion, but it is one that Elsewhere would (again) like to share. His last album Civilians was a Best of Elswehere 2007 pick, and as a producer he has been behind albums at Elsewhere by the likes of Solomon Burke, Loudon Wainwright (Strange Weirdos, another Best of Elsewhere, in 2008), Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Rodney Crowell . . .

He started life in the alt.country arena (the Jayhawks backed him on his early albums) but moved gently into jazz (Ornette Coleman made a guest appearance on the Scar album in 2001), and latterly has explored blues and soul (a fellow traveller with Bettye LaVette, Allen Toussaint, Elvis Costello and Mavis Staples), and yet -- for a man who has been Madonna's brother-in-law for over two decades -- he maintains a low public profile. His albums are generally acclaimed by critics and go right past most people.

This one won't change that pattern: Henry has assimiliated soulful blues and old New Orleans jazz into his serious singer-songwiter style and again you may hear echoes of mid-period Tom Waits aongside the jazzy piano phrasing from Jason Moran, typically superb guitar from Marc Ribot (from flamenco flourishes to barbed wire blues) and his astonishingly mature 17-year old son Levon on saxophone, a standout among these players who demand a high threshold.

Opening with a gorgeous, solo piano ballad which sounds lifted from a melancholy movie of the Fifties, the 13 track album moves through dirty Nawlins funk (muted trumpet like Louis, woozy backbeat, Waits-like vocals), brooding alt.country over sonic soundbeds, acoustic ballads, strange off-mike sounds, a sax instrumental showcase for Levon, poetic meditations on life and weary blues . . .

So another damn fine Joe Henry outing (his 11th studio album) for those 18 aficionados -- who knew about already.

And for the rest . . . ?

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Ultimate Painting: Dusk (TIM/Southbound)

Ultimate Painting: Dusk (TIM/Southbound)

A little bit of a stretch here but let's get into reference points for this British duo of Jack Cooper and James Hoare, the former sporting a perfect mid Sixties comb-forward fringe. This is... > Read more

Atlas Sounds: Let the Blind Lead Those Who See But Cannot Feel (Rhythmethod)

Atlas Sounds: Let the Blind Lead Those Who See But Cannot Feel (Rhythmethod)

This is either a strange coincidence or some weird serendipity -- but this solo album by Brandford Cox of the Atlanta band Deerhunter sounds like it has been made after he eavesdropped on my... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

HERBS, NEW ZEALAND'S POLITICISED REGGAE REVOLUTION INTO THE HALL OF FAME (2012): Hard tings an' times

HERBS, NEW ZEALAND'S POLITICISED REGGAE REVOLUTION INTO THE HALL OF FAME (2012): Hard tings an' times

When Herbs emerged at the start of the 1980s they were a very different band from the avuncular, mainstream entertainers they became. The original five-piece was managed by the former president... > Read more

SHONA LAING PROFILED (2013): The legacy of a Legacy Artist

SHONA LAING PROFILED (2013): The legacy of a Legacy Artist

Popular music – and pop music in particular – usually comes from, and speaks to, young people. This year with the success of Lorde, not 17 when her debut album Pure Heroine was... > Read more