Joe Henry's interesting musical journey coalesces on his latest album Reverie. These 14 original songs revolve around a concept of reflection. Reverie counts as Henry's 12th studio release. Henry's family moved from Charlotte to Atlanta when he was 7. He's lived in New York, Detroit and Los Angeles over the years. For his musical expertise, Henry earned a Grammy and produced records for artists such as Allen Toussaint, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Ramblin' Jack Elliot and Mose Allison to name a few.
"Heaven's Escape" begins Reverie. The song showcases Henry's lyrical precision and well-crafted compositions. Henry's music never strays far from the musical paths of Ray Charles, Bob Dylan and Tom Waits. He's a storyteller. The soulful "Odetta" emits a hopeful sonic sedative.
"After The War" contains a cinematic quality. "Sticks & Stones" retains a barroom jazz stream of consciousness vibe. "Grand Street" serves as one of Reverie's centerpiece songs. A resonating sadness echoes through this beautiful tune...an amazing story. "My camera doesn't lie to me/I see dark tears behind its eye/It looks back on my future/Already in the sweet by and by" Henry sings on the melancholy "Dark Tears".
A lush sound on "Strung" amplifies the regretful narrative tone. "Tomorrow Is October" paints a strong visual portrait of Henry's musical vision. "Piano Furnace" showcases powerful songwriting skills. On the acoustic blues number--"Deathbed Versions"--Henry sings "How do you like your blue-eyed boy?" in the opening line, and one senses trouble from the start.
"Room At Arles", a parlour-spun ballad, exists as an ode to Vic Chesnutt. "The World And All I Know", the final track, ends Reverie with a tranquil note. Perhaps Henry's own words on the album sum up this recording:
"...Time is the great river that reminds us we are buoyant, after all, as its moving current lifts us by the chin and just off of the balls of our feet, while we scrape and strain to dig our toes into the sandy ground. It is the source of morality and joy, all sorrow and desire; the price of our determination and the measure of surrender; the falling star trailed after by gypsies; and I am not convinced that any song exists without some knowing nod in its direction.
"I am nodding, then –to time, but also to all the love, hope, despair, and revelation that stands naked inside its weather. Time marches on, yes; but it hikes us up onto its wide shoulders in passing, if we are willing to ride, offering a staggering view of the horses..."