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Four-time Grammy-winning producer and critically acclaimed songwriter Joe Henry is releasing his 13th album. ''I went into the making of this whole record with an ethos driven by emotional clarity,'' Henry says of Invisible Hour, by far his most personal work to-date.
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"Invisible Hour" by its very title evokes stories, sparks of ideas sizzle as words and music forge tales that in turn form images that linger in memory like old photos in an album, images of partially recalled moments and events, life lessons, secret alliances, passions, and woe. Your only real competition in this sphere is, well, Joe Henry. By holding back a single star, I mean no disrespect regarding "Invisible Hour." It's simply how I rank this album among the many others by you I have enjoyed. I've heard you and your merry band up the pace and power and complexity a bit more on some of your other recordings. The contrast accorded by that intensity is not as pronounced here, in my view. At the same time, I recognize your intent and approach were not the same as on "Blood from Stars" or "Tiny Voice." But as I said, you are your only real competition.
been a huge devotee of Mr. Henry's work since Short
Man's Room, although I believe he did not receive his
God's Head until Fuse. Fuse, Scar and Tiny Voices are
still my favorite albums--they were a bit more "creative"
musically than what he has put out since.
Although songs like Plainspeak (a gorgeous track, my
fave) Sign and Every Sorrow (TNAF) are all gems--I find that
over the last few albums he seems to rely on the same few
song structures over and over. Perhaps Reverie with
songs like Strung and Piano Furnace broke the mould
a bit more than other recent albums , but for my tastes
I wish that with all the brilliant musicians he works with
he would drop a few more tunes that actually rocked,
swung or kicked up the tempo a bit here and there.
Again, there is a lot of great stuff on this album as many
have pointed out--here's hoping he sets some of his
superlative songcraft to some interesting "up-tempo"
tunes on some future releases--4 1/2*s.
Along with his cadre of trusted studio musicians, Henry has once again plumbed the depths of life and the human soul, fashioning indelible tales that bear repeated listening, each session revealing more nuance and layers of meaning.
He deserves a wider audience, and I heartily recommend his previous releases--Kindness of the World, Tiny Voices, Civilians, Blood From Stars, and Reverie--as well. All are excellent, and have all received universal critical glowing praise.