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Joe Henry (from the album All The Eye Can See available on e*a*r Music/Edel) (by Lee Zimmerman)
To say Joe Henry is prolific would be akin to claiming there’s sand in the Sahara. A singer, songwriter, guitarist, and producer, he’s released some sixteen studio albums on his own and produced innumerable efforts for other artists, reaping three Grammy Awards in the process.
His latest offering, All That the Eye Can See, began, as many have for other artists in recent years, in the midst of the pandemic while tempered by the troubles and turmoil that followed in the wake of fear, division, and disparity. A set of spectral songs that are as seductive as they are haunting, the recording process began in isolation. As each track took shape, Joe Henry invited other musicians to take part, until eventually he had recruited more than 20 in all. They included his son Levon Henry on saxophone & clarinet, David Piltch on bass, drummer Jay Bellerose, Patrick Warren on piano and keys, and John Smith on acoustic guitar. Together, they created a song cycle of sorts, one that’s both mellow and meditative. The listener is forced to lean in, and then listen intently in order to fully appreciate the stately, serene and often sobering melodies that resulted in the wake of these recordings.
Still, it’s a hopeful discourse. On “Red Letter Day”, the album’s final entry, Henry signs off by saying:
‘There will come a day and soon,
This cold parade is over --
The mule will nose stubborn then,
The judge will not be sober,
The choir will not amplify
The song to put asunder…’
Those calming sentiments pervade the offering as a whole, and the spellbinding beauty effectively flows from one song to the next. “Mission”, “Pass Through Me Now”, “Yearling”, and “Near to the Ground” are so calming, in fact, that it’s hard not to fall prey to their restful embrace. The sound is akin to being cushioned by a cloud, and then swept away in a gentle haze of quiet contemplation. It’s that atmospheric ambiance which makes this appear to be such a solitary set, and yet, at the same time, it’s both passionate and pervasive as well.
Given all Henry’s accomplished, it’s would be hard to pinpoint any one moment of exceptional excellence in his career thus far. Nevertheless, suffice it to say, All the Eye Can See ranks high among them.
(by Lee Zimmerman)
Listen and buy the music of Joe Henry from AMAZON
Please go to the Joe Henry website for more purchase and artist information
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