Saturday 19 November 2011

Review: Joe Henry

Joe Henry - Reverie (Anti-)
It’s August, 1992, and I’m in Santa Monica, and in the heat of the moment I stumble on to, and into, a small record shop just down from a huge food court that catered for all tastes. The record shop certainly didn’t do that, but it did offer up a promo copy of Joe Henry’s “Shuffletown” for $9, and that was that. Here I am, nearly two decades on, and I still find Joe Henry a pleasure to listen to. Along with Tom Waits (who many understandably draw a direct comparison to), and more recently Richard Buckner and Jeff Finlin, his music has been a constant delight. Less dramatic than Tom, less world-weary than Richard, and less instant than Jeff, Joe Henry puts together his songs with a sombre caress, regardless of the genre (he does have many styles to his music), and each song delivers its message with a rare finesse.

It tells me a lot when I can recall buying that first Joe Henry album so clearly, but hardly any of the others I purchased in those three weeks spent driving up and down the coast of California (I do recall buying the Neil Young/Pearl Jam collaboration in Mendocino in 1995, but that’s a whole other story). Joe Henry’s music has never disappointed his small legion of fans. You can take any of his albums, in any order, at any time, into your heart and just enjoy the moments that sing out to you from each and every one of them.

I still have a dream that one day I’ll stumble again, somewhere in California, but this time into a small bar rather than a record shop, and there’s Joe, with a handful of patrons listening to him sing his songs; and these patrons, recognising a kindred spirit, make room for me at the bar...
Kev A.

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