Missed Music

Music you didn’t know you needed…until now.

Rock with Soul and Jazz undertones from Joe Henry

You should check out the cool style of performer/producer Joe Henry. Musicians like and respect this guy. He’s been in the business a long time (his debut came out in 1986) and has produced albums for the likes of Richard and Linda Thompson, Elvis Costello, Loudin Wainwright III, and one of my favorites Bettye Lavette.

Joe, sideways, with a monkey on his shoulder.

Joe, sideways, with a monkey on his shoulder.

He is also a performer in his own right. He’s got an interesting and shifting style and you want to listen to every one of his songs with the liner notes in hand so you can read his compelling lyrics. His early stuff tended to be overproduced, which made some of it sound cheesy, even though the songwriting was tight. He has really hit his stride these days. I’m going to recommend a few tracks from 3 of his late albums.

First, from his 1999 release, Fuse:

  • Angels – This song has a soul feel to it. Beautiful keys and pocket drumming spiced with occasional picked guitar and noodling saxophone.
  • Fat – This song is more spare sounding, but still creates a full groove. Cool lyrics include, “Gambled I would lose. I guess I…win.”
  • Curt Flood – This is a jazzy instrumental piece that I just love.

From 2003’s Tiny Voices:

  • Tiny Voices – This is a heavily produced piece (but not overly so) with layers of sound: trumpets, clarinets keys, guitars, muted vocals. Maybe my favorite Joe Henry song. Maybe.
  • Flag – This is an absolutely beautiful love song like Elvis Costello might write. By that I mean it’s about love, but reveals his deeply personal feelings and observations of his own behaviors and motivations.

And finally, from the 2007 release Civilians:

  • Civilians – This song makes me feel the way I do when I’m full of vodka and regret. “Life is short, but by the grace of God the night is long.”
  • Time Is a Lion – A winner with nasty guitar, piano that’s alternately thundering and delicate, handclap percussion, and Henry’s thought provoking lyrics.

By no means are these all the good songs on these discs, just some of my faves. I love his website’s URL, http://www.joehenrylovesyoumadly.com.

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March 16, 2009 - Posted by | Jazz, Rock, Soul

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