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Scar

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Scar
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Audio CD, May 15, 2001
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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From roots rocker to songwriting impressionist to sonic adventurer, the musical progression of Joe Henry resists category and defies expectation. The album-opening "Richard Pryor Addresses a Tearful Nation" is Henry's most audacious move to date, as his smoky voice channels the comedian's tragic spirit while a saxophone break from free-jazz titan Ornette Coleman provides achingly poignant punctuation. The rest of the song cycle ranges from the sophisticated atmospherics of "Stop" (adapted by Henry's sister-in-law Madonna into her hit single, "Don't Tell Me") to the insistent funk of "Rough and Tumble." The production by Henry and Craig Street gives the music plenty of room to breathe, augmenting the organic interplay of guitarist Marc Ribot, pianist Brad Mehldau, and bassist Me'shell Ndegeocello with bittersweet string arrangements. Though there are echoes of Van Morrison in "Mean Flower" and the Band in "Cold Enough to Cross," Henry is less a classicist than a restless visionary. --Don McLeese

1. Richard Pryor Addresses A Tearful Nation
2. Stop
3. Mean Flower
4. Struck
5. Rough And Tumble
6. Lock And Key
7. Nico Lost One Small Buddha
8. Cold Enough To Cross
9. Edgar Bergen
10. Scar

Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 15, 2001)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Hollywood Records/Mammoth
  • ASIN: B00005J70W
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,636 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan B Whitcomb on June 11, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Sometimes I like listening to bright, sunny pop music. When I feel like that, I won't be reaching for this CD. This is dark, ponderous music. Henry easily hops from one pop idiom to another, borrowing lush jazz textures here, trip hop grooves there, loose, rootsy folk rock elsewhere. While anyone can go genre shopping, the trick is to make it hold together. Joe Henry has succeeded brilliantly with this album.
This is my second exposure to Joe Henry. I thought "Fuse" was an interesting album but it didn't feel very grounded or coherent in its lighter pop stylings. Moreover, Henry's vocal style sounds more at home in Scar's darker arrangements. Scar goes deeper and feels like an artist hitting his stride. The album feels loose and experimental at the same time it feels confident and assured. It sounds like Henry gave his session musicians space to experiment so this has the feel of a collaberation, all the while guided by Henry's vision.
This album has good songs, good singing, good arrangements and good performances. If you're looking for an entertaining ride outside the mainstream, step right up!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By "doctord462" on May 16, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Joe Henry's 'Fuse' was one of 1999's best albums (in the top five in the New York Times Critics' Poll); with 'Scar,' Henry has created a worthy follow-up. The new album is darker than 'Fuse,' and the songs are mostly slower (a notable exception is "Mean Flower"). Ornette Coleman, Marc Ribot, and percussionist Brian Blade help out, with several solos by Coleman appearing throughout the album. The songs themselves are excellent. The title track, in particular, may be Henry's best song. "Richard Pryor Addresses a Tearful Nation" is another standout. The album is not quite perfect; the instrumental "Nico Lost One Small Buddha" is jarring in context with the rest of the album. In the end, though, 'Scar' is one of Henry's best efforts to date, and nearly the equal of 'Fuse.'
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Gianmarco Manzione on May 17, 2001
Format: Audio CD
"Scar" captures Joe Henry's ability to incorporate unexplored and seemingly foreign genres into his own musical vision. After his slick 80's debut, he turned to the stripped bare folk style for exclusively "live" studio performances. He risked alienating his fans with "trampoline" and the brilliant "Fuse" by introducing elaborate, lush pop rhythms to his music, and the results lept well beyond all expectations.
Ornette Coleman's hand touches "Scar" with a magic pathos. The title track is indeed one of Joe Henry's finest performances, which is less a song than it is an eerie and gorgeous suggestion of a darker Heaven. "Richard Pryor Addresses a Tearful Nation" can be seen as a darker and more compelling sequel to the heavenly ballad, "One Day When The Weather Is Warm," the opening song on Henry's subdued 1993 effort, "Kindness of the World." The song's blend of jazz piano, clarinet, sensuously torpid hip-hop drum beats and Henry's unmistakable vocals is further proof that Henry's "Fuse" was no fluke, nor was it an embarrassing or desperate cross-over into the realm of pop music for the sake of record sales, as some critics would have you believe.
"Scar" is absolutely necessary in this regard, as it proves that Henry is blessed with a genuine musical vision, one that evolves on every record. As a fan who was won over by Fuse, I confess to hoping for something very much in the same vein this time around, something that elaborated upon the riveting pop soundscape of that album. However, after hearing the jazzy tunes on "Scar," it is apparent that Joe Henry commands a level of respect that his critics failed to allow him earlier.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Reader and Writer on June 1, 2001
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
What you have on this CD is a talented guy, hip enough to recruit Ornette Coleman to play sax for him; clever songwriting; highly mannered singing; one enervated, downbeat song after another; occasional energy in the arrangements, and especially in the instrumental track "Nico"; a hidden sax solo that begins at minute 7 of the closing track, after a couple minutes of silence. All in all, worth a listen, but you may find yourself going back to single tracks rather than the whole CD. Pax to the reviewers who think this is jazz--it's not, it just has some jazz musicians on it. I understand Joe Henry fans giving it four and five stars; I'm offering this alternate view for those who are not already his fans, who looked this CD up because of the current good publicity for it.
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13 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Matthew on December 2, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Upon first listening to Joe Henry's new album "Scar" (Mammoth, 2001) I found myself feeling the same way when I first heard Me'Shell NdegéOcello's "Bitter": Thankful to Craig Street and Joe Henry for their contributions to the best album I've heard this year.
Both Craig Street and Joe Henry played significant parts in making "Bitter" my favorite album of 1999 - and depending on what day of the week it is - my favorite album of all time. The production by Craig Street, and the gift of Joe Henry's vocals on the track "Wasted Time" still makes my head spin.
[...]
Within moments of the first song, you hear producer Craig Street's influence. "Scar" is stripped down. It's a musician's album. Ornette Coleman is an incredible addition. While listening to the track "Richard Pryor Addresses A Tearful Nation," I found my eyes closed, typing this... With every note blown, I'm left wondering why you don't hear more horns in today's R&B. A fabulous track. I can totally see Joe doing the soundtrack to a film by Robert Altman, Spike Lee, Steven Soderbergh... The lyrics for the track, are heartbreaking.
"Mean Flower" is just gorgeous. As with every track on BITTER, I find myself thinking how certain songs can't possibly be better than this. Is that Marc Ribot on guitar? When "Struck" starts, I began wondering if Joe knew Craig before he came to add the vocals to "Wasted Time." Wondering if, Joe was around the studio when they were recording other tracks on "Bitter." Thinking to himself: 'This is what I want my next album to be like. Just bring in the best musicians, and make the best album we can. Craig will keep us on track...' Because that's exactly what happened on "Scar."
It's funny, I realized the only song I haven't written about yet was the 2nd track, "Stop.
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