Tiny Voices
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on February 12, 2004
"Tiny Voices" is yet another beautifully discordant "jazzy" triumph for a vastly under appreciated artist. In the tradition of "Scar," his previous masterpiece, Mr. Henry continues to explore the themes that have dominated his work from the beginning: love, loss, betrayal, transcendence and shatterd expectations. Defying the temptation of critics who would like nothing more than to pidgeonhole him - he's been compared to everyone from Tom Waites to Elvis Costello - Mr. Henry continues to chart his own course. His musical palette, as wide as the Mississippi is long, ranges from folk to to jazz to Tin Pan Alley. And it's all so seamless, you wonder how he does it. "Tiny Voices" is dominated by the lush, tastefully discordant jazzy background music that was used so effectively on "Scar," although on "Tiny Voiices" it's more restrained. He's altogether eshewed the pop elements of his 1999 release "Fuse," which brought him a smattering of the attention he deserves. Apart from his masterly musical explorations, Mr. Henry shows he can write a song with the best of them, including Waites and Costello. Mr. Henry's "Flesh and Blood," performed so powerfully by Solomon Burke on the Henry-produced record "Don't Give Up On Me," is one of my favorites:
"Come see the golden light,
Because I've turned the gold light on.
Sometimes, God knows, you've got to
Learn to shine on your own.
I step out of the darkness
And for a moment I'm onlyy living by your kiss,
And just for now our flesh and blood
Is no more real than this."
This is music for people, adults, who think and feel. Buy it.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on September 24, 2003
'Tiny Voices' contains everything I like about Joe Henry albums. I really don't know how he does it. 'Trampoline' was my introduction to Joe Henry's music, and that record still blows me away. Soon after discovering Trampoline I went out and bought all of his music. I found something different in every record. (I recommend checking out all of them) Then 'Fuse' and 'Scar' came out and mixed things up a bit. I admit that it took me some time to fully appreciate them, but with time they really grew on me, like all of Joe's
music. 'Tiny Voices' grabbed me from the start. It's such a full and rewarding record. Laid back, but far from easy listening. The many instruments all leave their mark, and never sound cluttered. The sound is truly timeless. Very experimental, and yet straight forward at the same time. And of course the lyrics are amazing. I've never heard anything quite like it. Joe Henry fans that had a hard time following his last two records, as well as fans who love all of his previous releases should love this record. It would also be a great introduction to Joe Henry's amazing music.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on August 27, 2005
This album is tremendous. But was there ever a lazier adjective than "jazzy?"
Alot of people fawned over the "jazz"-stylings of his album SCAR, but TINY VOICES is where he outstrips all hints of genre-exercise and reaches the place he's been travelling towards his whole career. It both defines and transcends his oeuvre. TINY VOICES, like his previous two albums is soul music.
Impossible to listen to except in it's entirety; with perhaps two exceptions I have never been so immediately and lastingly touched and thrilled by an album as with TINY VOICES.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 8, 2004
Tiny Voices seems to be Joe Henry's attempt to bridge the sonic and iconic bricolage of Fuse with the alchemy of live performance as captured in Scar. It's a room of people, listening, waiting, and impregnating each moment with possibility, sound, and restraint. It's simultaneously hushed and boisterous. His latest is a record that has haunted and taunted me since it's opening moment. I've been digesting the album since its September 23rd release, and while it's offered enjoyment and intrigue, I wouldn't dare to say that I've begun to wrest the sustenance such a work will offer over a longer span of time.
From what I've read, the making of Tiny Voices was quite the daring effort, but one Henry handled quite ably. It was captured with eight cohorts over a five-day period. Considering the formidable talents of each individual involved, the results could have simmered into a safely calculated mash of pristine session player prowess. Fortunately, the artist knew what he was doing and delivered a collection of songs that are acoustically chaotic, lyrically confounding, yet oddly comforting. It's a discomforting comfort, a comforting discomfort, and one never gnaws to the marrow of such a paradoxical bone. Perhaps that's why I love it like I do.
Like the two previous albums, Tiny Voices probably shouldn't be sold by daylight. It probably should be listened to only under the shadow of night. Maybe if it bore a warning label he might move more units. I've bought a handful of copies for close friends I trust with such a treasure. It feels a bit dismissive to say it's my favorite album of 2003; it's also a woefully selfish and provincial view of a work that I hope will someday find a broader audience and receive the greater praise it is due.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 27, 2004
This record is not the place to start if you're new to Joe Henry. It seems so long ago that I first heard "Fuse." What a fantastic journey Joe has taken us on beginning with "Fuse," and then "Scar," and "Tiny Voices." "Fuse" is the pop record, and it is brilliant. "Scar" is the masterpiece. It will be very tough to top that record. It combines the pop sensibilities with the jazz influences in a perfect way. "Tiny Voices" is the after-the-masterpiece record. It's more jazzy than ever, and some of the improvisational work by the instrumentalists occasionally strays over the line into dissonance. However, the lyrics are fantastic and it is a great record in it's own right, but I think it's more likely to be appreciated by listeners who've heard both "Fuse" and "Scar" first. After three great records in a row, which is a rare achievement, one can only hope that the next record is as interesting and wonderful as these three. All three records deserve five stars.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 10, 2003
This new Joe Henry album isn't the equal of his last album, Scar, which should be considered one of the great masterpieces in music. But it's a logical follow up, nevertheless. The jazz influence is even greater here. In fact, it swamps any other musical influence. The main reason to get this album is for the intricate arrangements, which blend middle of the road jazz melodies with some amazing improvisational, left field stuff, similar in style to what Ornette Coleman did on the Richard Pryor piece that dominated the last Joe Henry album. The sound and arrangements are dense to say the least, without becoming at all messy. The vocals are a bit further back in the mix, giving the musicians centre stage. The piano parts frequently sound like they're being played through a cheap tape recorder, with all the attendant distortion. This album's sonic weave is a strange and exciting collision of the super-smooth and the ultra-lo-fi. Such a collision is not unique in contemporary music; it has been done by various left-field musical artists over the past decade. But Joe creates something different, something powerfully his. This is Henry's definitive sound, as patented on the Scar album. What lets the album down a bit is the lack of great melodies. This is where it suffers when placed alongside the Scar album. All of the numbers here are decent in their way, but they don't exactly emblazon themselves on the mind. Most of the numbers are slow and quite long, and shy away from anything as blunt as a chorus. Loves You Madly is an exception in that it's really the only song you could hum along to, and find yourself singing afterwards. More often than not here, Joe prefers to sing the final line of a verse a few times, and in this way create a distinction. This is an album that requires a listener's attention from the first to the last second, and the album is more than an hour long. There are a lot of pleasing moments here, but there's nothing as contagious as 'Stop' or 'Rough And Tumble', and no ballads as memorable as 'Cold Enough To Cross'. The title track is one of the more upbeat numbers here, and the album could have benefited from the inclusion of more of them. However, the album does finish on quite a high note, with the grandeur of 'Your Side Of My World', which perhaps takes the faithful Joe Henry listener back to simpler, more melodic days. My own feeling is that if listeners did not get on with the Scar album, they certainly won't get on with this one, because it's even more deeply entrenched in the jazz ethic. Joe has come a long way in his music, and one must applaud him for that. Though my own feeling is that he should perhaps step back after this, and write more direct and accessible songs again. Without losing the experimental side of his music. For now, this album is a fine addition to the Henry cannon, a jazzy stew of subtle slow burners and social meditations. But I would be concerned if he went any further down this track. Just as Joni Mitchell reached a dead end with her Mingus album, Joe himself could be headed for a dead end too. Sometimes an artist has to go back before they can go forward once more (though it's debatable whether Joni ever did go forward again). The cover photo of Tiny Voices immediately brings to mind the cover of Tom Waits' Swordfishtrombones. However, I would say the photo is a bit misleading. There's nothing weird here. Joe Henry doesn't really do weird. But there is beauty and complexity and sophistication which you will not find anywhere else in contemporary music. And these are reasons alone for buying this singular and involving album.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2003
Which is to say, more genre-defying bliss from pop's reigning mad chemist. This release continues in the vein of 2001's Scar, at least insofar as it retains that album's creaky, jazz-steeped production ethos. Different personnel lends a slightly different feel, but if you aren't a jazz nerd, you aren't liable to notice that it's Don Byron and not Ornette Coleman handling the horn charts, or that Brad Mehldau isn't playing piano. The songs are too good. Tiny Voices is, like Scar, a bit of a grower--at first listen, much of the album doesn't register beyond the strange-but-cool background music level. But little things leap out at you--the beautifully spare introduction to "Dirty Magazine," the gently descending refrain of "Flag," the ragged optimism of "Leaning," the haunting chorus backgrounds on the title track. Lines jump out at you here and there:
I remember when love was something I craved
But I settled for less and the comfort it gave,
For living his hard when real love begins
And it leaves heavy lines on your animal skin
"Animal Skin"
If I give in to your open arms
Then you can think the worst of me
For pulling out my weakness like a charm
And making sure you'd see
"Sold"
Now I hang my clothes out to dry
Like waves of surrender, they fly.
The whore of this world looks old and played
Still she peeks from the alley
Like a waiting bride's maid
"Flag"
Oh, God loves a sinner
God loves a crook
God loves you frail
And splayed out like a book
"Loves You Madly"
But it isn't until about halfway through the album's last track, "Your Side Of My World," that the album really sucks you in. "There you were, in your high heels and curls," Henry groans, "Coming in big as life, from your side of my world." Minutes later, from out of nowhere, a gospel choir. And it all comes together--this glorious cacophony, blaring forth from a creaking spaceship flown by a drunk alien pilot--and suddenly the album that's been jabbering at you--softly but insistently--reaches out, grabs you by your lapels, and throws you across the room. You are now among the saved.
If I had to make a comparison, simply for the sake of someone who's never listened to Joe Henry before, I'd say "Tom Waits with a decent singing voice and a real appreciation for melody." But really, that doesn't do the music justice. I'll be listening to this for a long time.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 7, 2004
This is Joe Henry's 9th album, much different from his first 2, which are different then his 3rd and 4th. In other words, this is an artist who's reinterpretation of his previous efforts is assimultated, digested with excogitation and reinforced with new ideas and musical concepts. Henry is one of the most prolific artist working in music today. The mainstream will never understand where he's been, what he's heard or what he's presenting inside embellished rainbows of jazz inflected folk that simply is miles ahead of most artist recording today.

Amazingly originative narrations guide the listener through germinal thoughts and abstractions.

One heck of an accomplishment by any standards and most assuredly transcending, setting it firmly amoungst the true recorded masterpieces of this century.
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on November 1, 2014
Very much liked the album, have seen Joe live many times but this is the first album I've purchased. Unfortunately, the CD itself is flawed - the last song doesn't play which is really to bad because it's a great tune. Don't do what I accidentally did - make sure to play the cd right away after you've purchased it so that you know that it works. I played the last piece on two different players with the same result it's a mess..
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon November 28, 2009
Joe Henry is an unsung, musical genius. He's not a light-hearted singer who sings showtunes. No, his music is full of depth and meaning. His music particularly his songs like "Flesh and Blood" is both deep and moving as well as dark but spiritual. I couldn't wait to finally get this compact disc which features "Flesh and Blood." If you listen to all of his songs, you will notice the depth and meaning with the lyrics. Joe Henry is not a household name, maybe he doesn't want to be one. He reminds you of a piano player in a dark bar entertaining and enlightening the other patrons with his tunes to reflect their mood whether dark, unhappiness, and stressful situation. He writes about feelings, relationships, and even religion at times. I get the feeling that he's a very spiritual being without having his religion on his sleeves or preaching to the crowd. Joe Henry's music is not only deep but moving and can inspire those of us out there that maybe somelike Joe Henry understands pain, misery, unhappiness, and the world in general without being cruel and realistic. His songs display depth, meaning, metaphors, and plenty to work with in studying but his music is to be enjoyed even on a good day.
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