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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!
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I've never lost interest in this album since I first heard it around 2001. I've heard all of Joe Henry's other albums, and I love many of them. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Truckin' In Texas
There is no better song while a storm rolls in late on a summers night than "Struck" for it's mood. "Stop" and "Rough and Tumble" get the reviewers praise........ Read morePublished on April 22, 2009 by Steve D. Beling
Beautifully done album, packed with music. Just want to listen to it over and over again.Published on July 6, 2005 by New Yorker
Madonna's brother-in-law, JH has his original song, "Stop" on this cd, which she turned into the country-pop of "Don't Tell Me. Read morePublished on June 2, 2003
I have this album and man, do I love the song, "Stop." When I first heard it, I thought "one wonder Madonna wrote "Don't Tell Me" great songs, great... Read morePublished on April 10, 2003 by Norma Palacios
He is Madonna's brother-in-law, but he sounds more like Tom Waits' baby brother. This is late night lounge music for those who like it dark, moody and Ornette Coleman dissonant. Read morePublished on December 6, 2002 by Larry White
This man has a voice that could soothe even the most savage of beasts. I love this CD and this is actually my second purchase for the same item since my daughter accidentally... Read morePublished on February 18, 2002
To me "Scar" like its predecessor "Fuse" has to be listened to as if it's one song not individual tracks. Read morePublished on September 23, 2001 by Neil Gibbs