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

Loudon Wainwright III: Years in the Making (Storysound/Southbound)

Loudon Wainwright III: Years in the Making (Storysound/Southbound)

Even longtime fans of this enormously prolific songwriter – who has often performed open-heart surgery on his failed relationships, family, psyche, politics and every damn thing – find... > Read more

Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell: Old Yellow Moon (Warners)

Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell: Old Yellow Moon (Warners)

Two-part question to Emmylou and Rodney: What took you so long (they've been musical pals for almost four decades) and why songs – albeit good ones – mostly from back-catalogues?... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

FROM SCRATCH REVIEWED (2018): The re-percussions of a hocket in the pocket

FROM SCRATCH REVIEWED (2018): The re-percussions of a hocket in the pocket

Some music requires, insists on and even demands a different kind of listening. So it it has always been with From Scratch, the percussion ensemble which formed in the mid Seventies around... > Read more

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . BYUNGKI HWANG: a Korean master musician at home

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . BYUNGKI HWANG: a Korean master musician at home

In Seoul, the vibrant capital of South Korea the old and new, the raw and polished, frequently rub together in odd juxtapositions. So a butcher’s shop with pig trotters on the wet floor is... > Read more