A dusty, deconstructed, slow-motion gospel-blues stomp. I consistently like Joe Henry’s music without really knowing why. His songs succeed through atmosphere, maybe, more than anything else, which with Henry involves a canny intermingling of his fuzzy-buzzy baritone–rich and weary in a fin de siècle sort of way–with an idiosyncratic mix of sounds and organic beats. This time around, I’m particularly enjoying Marc Ribot’s unmistakable guitar lines, with their dry ghostly twang, which imply a bunch of noise they’re not actually making; the subtle interplay of a tinkly piano with a quiet horn of some sort; and the continuous use of drum rolls, on at least two different types of drums, to keep things edgy and forlorn.
Each time Henry releases an album, music writers seem to knock themselves out talking about how different it is from his last one but to my ears, everything sounds entirely Joe Henryesque. However different the music may be–and in all honesty I’m not hearing the differences others are hearing–the voice and the warm, intriguing sonic amalgam is a strong constant. If you’ve liked his stuff in the past, you’ll like this; if you like this, go back and check out some of his older things. You’ll like them too.<
"Death to the Storm" is from the album Blood From Stars, to be released next week on Anti Records. MP3 via Spinner.