Joe Henry released his critically acclaimed 12th album “Reverie” this fall. The album sounds like an updated, more hip lounge act. Soft, romantic instrumentals, but Henry’s voice contrasts with a gruff, sharper sound.
The first track, “Heaven’s Escape,” is the best song on the album. It gives you the feeling that it’s raining outside and you’re cuddled warm inside with someone special. “Odetta” has a bit more of a bluegrass-y sound; with guitar and vocal harmonization, it makes for a very catchy song. During “After the War” I couldn’t tell if I was listening to Henry or Aaron Neville (I don’t know if that’s necessarily a good thing). Make of it what you want. “Sticks & Stones” harkens back to Fiona Apple’s song “Paper Bag” on her 1999 album “When the Pawn.” Bluesy with strong lyrics, you can really hear Henry’s emotion.
If you could turn a sunrise into a song, it would be Henry’s “Grand Street.” He slows down the tempo on this song, with just piano, acoustic guitar and a snare. “Dark Tears” features guest Marc Ribot on acoustic guitar and national ukulele, and Patrick Warren on piano and pump organ. This song takes listeners to the Ozarks, with its bluegrass sound. “Strung” is heavy on the instrumental – piano, drums and guitar. Lyrics are something Henry does well, and this song doesn’t fail to deliver.
Henry’s buddy Marc Ribot provides a soft backdrop of acoustic guitar for “Tomorrow is October.” Like most songs on this album, “October” makes you want to cozy up indoors with its cool vibe and lyrics. “Piano Furnace” gets some vocal assistance from Lisa Hannigan, who adds a lovely little treat to the song’s chorus. Ribot returns with his guitar for Henry’s “Deathbed Version” – and so does the bluegrass/country vibe. This sound is pleasant and interesting, even for a non-country music fan. This reviewer got bored with “Room at Arles”– just a bit too slow for my taste. “Eyes Out for You” is another romantic ballad by Henry. Could be a good theme song for that next Julia Roberts romantic comedy? The album concludes strong with “The World and All I Know,” a lovely little song with Patrick Warren on piano and pump organ. The addition of Warren and Ribot add tremendously to Henry’s debut album. Let’s hope he invites more friends to perform for his lucky number 13.
Reviewed by Jill Russell
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