Joe Henry – Civilians (2007)
This is an exercise of revisiting some music that was bought at the time (being 2007) but only in recent days have I had the time to give it a serious listen, or two.
Joe Henry has been making music for a long time and is also well established as a producer of other musician’s albums.
His music changed in slightly about 10 years ago; as a singer songwriter he settled into a comfortable mix of styles. It remains hard to define.
Foremost he is a singer/songwriter expressing his personal and people oriented messages with a secondary political layer, through a mix of beat, jazz, lounge and folk/rock – you get the picture – a mix of styles, not a single category of sound.
This album sound a little more serious than others. You probably do not play it in the car as it is best listened to, maybe through headphones. The album has a fairly slow pace (as compared to his next album which is a little more raucous)
But before I make it sound far too serious, his singing has an engagement of a balladeer. He has been compared a little to Tom Waits, but I suggest that maybe stretching it a little, as Tom is definitely in a class of his own. Joe does share the art of fine character development and story telling with Tom.
As would be expected, the arrangements are wonderfully beautiful and subtle.
The cover photograph is by cover is by John Cohen of visual artist Mary Frank, who at the time (1960), was married to Robert Frank.
Here’s a few introductory songs – although a couple of significant ones from Civilians are not available online.
God only knows (Civilians)
Time is a lion (Civilians)
You can’t Fail me Now (Civilians)
An acoustic version of “Channel’ from Blood From Stars
Recommended: Rating 8/10
I will be revisiting a few albums by other artists – this week or very soon.
Paul Costigan, 9th February 2014.