A blog for Joe Henry fans

maandag 2 juni 2014

Invisible Hour : Blog Review

I hang ready to be swayed…

‘Invisible hour’ is Joe Henry’s 13th album. He said on previous occasions it are songs about marriage. And with this knowledge I find the opening of the album even stronger than it already is without this fact. 

“It wasn’t peace I wanted, it wasn’t peace I found” are the opening lines of ‘Sparrow’, Opening track of the album. These are, no less than the opening words of a very good book. This 1 line makes you want to listen further, you want to hear his story. At the same time I can completely relate to them, when it comes to having a family.  On top of the words, ‘Sparrow’ is a very beautiful melody. We are being spoiled from the very first chord on. 

Although this is Joe Henry’s album, I’ll probably remember it as Joe’s album which Levon Henry is lifting  way up there. Maybe here we are also witnessing Joe Henry, the producer. I off course don’t know how it all evolved, but Levon has a major contribution to this album. Sometimes his clarinet surprises you, with a subtle and beautiful interaction, f.e. ‘Grave Angels’, ‘Water between us’ or ‘slide’ . Other times he brings us a wonderful solo. For example, His playing in ‘Sign’ together with the sublime ‘Jay Bellerose’ is really a conversation of 2 people who truly understand each other. All over the album we get spoiled with his beautiful playing. 

Listening to the swinging ‘Grave Angels’ or ‘Lead me on’, it is hard to believe that they recorded this album just in a few days. Oh,… it must have been a fun time….. The joy of all these musicians is really seductive. ‘Lead me on’ brings us also the warm and beautiful voice of Lisa Hannigan. It’s like receiving a warm hug in this album. You have the wonderful Mandola of John in ‘Slide’, and when you hear ‘plain speak’ or ‘Every Sorrow’…. How to begin with giving enough applause to those who well deserve it.  All of you made this album to what it is. Josh Hurst wrote in his review: “Truthfully, he could have self-titled it and none of us would have raised an eyebrow.”  But I’m willing to bet he agrees with me that these musicians are all a part of Joe Henry. 

All there is left to say here is : Joe, Jay, Jennifer, Levon, Greg, John, David, Kenneth, Joey and Lisa : I thank you all for bringing this wonderful music.

I already envy those, who will be hearing these songs performed by the full band. It’s an amazing Chemistry.
 Joe : After your solo tour. Please come back with a ‘full band’ tour ?

The album is dedicated to the late Irish poet Seamus Heaney. But there are more Irish influences on this album. Off course there is the presence of Lisa Hannigan, but also poet Colum McCann, who co-wrote the title track. Today we find out in a German interview that Colum McCann is also of great importance for the wonderful track ‘sign’.  'Sign' has for me a definite Irish feel, but musically, I think this is most clear on ‘Every Sorrow’.

Joe manages to bring us songs about marriage, without falling into the trap of anecdote. His lyrics are pure poetry. They hold lots of truth in them. It is indeed ‘plain speak’ when you say : “I want nothing more, then for you to sway me now”. It is something we think a lot, but most of us never speak it plainly.

He brings us again a different album, in comparison to his previous work, but at the same time it has the mark Joe Henry all over it. How do you do that ? I wonder.
 ‘Invisible Hour’ is truly a masterpiece. Something to be genuinely proud of.  Every now and then an album hits the surface that is absolutely perfect. This one fits right in.

And like any good book, it ends it with some wonderful closing words which we can hear in ‘Slide’ :

“….We’re Learning more then we intended…..”


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