Life in Music inspired by Joe Henry

zaterdag 9 september 2017

Joe Henry presents us Thrum

When the songs that make up Thrum began to arrive, pair off and multiply
––when I could hear within them a common vocabulary of shared
intention–– I began to imagine not only the cast of musicians that might

best articulate them, but as well a recording method which might bid
welcome the unknowable and mercurial in each, and conjure them wholly,
sparking into the room. And as I did, I went to my friend and longtime
engineer, Ryan Freeland, with a proposition concerning how I might make
an album that could allow for bold manipulations without forsaking the
alligiences inherent to our spontaneous, performance-based ethos....
I pitched Ryan the notion that I would assemble a room of trusted brothers
(one of them also a son); and as we offered up takes of each song, he
would respond to their cumulative weather pushing through the control
room speakers -- not as a dispassionate stenographer documenting all for
posterity, but as one making tonal movies on-the- fly: contorting, mixing, and
printing the results to 1/2" stereo analog tape in real time as we played.
This scheme would, of course, prove feasible and advantageous for me
only if Ryan and the other musicians found the invitation inspiring and not a
hindrance to their collective creativity, upon which I have grown to so rely;
and fortunately for me, they did to a man, and to them each I am grateful.
As such:
We convened twice, for two days each gathering, at United Recording in
Hollywood (its studio B being my favorite recording space in all of Los
Angeles, its crew the kindest); and with each song emerging in rotation, we
played to hear in collaboration its fundamental impulse; and as the song
took shape, Ryan made decisions about how to frame it all as a visceral
and singular listening experience. Ryan was, thus, a band member
–essentially playing all of us as we played each song.
I had described to Ry and the fellas something of what I imagined, sonically
––referencing, for example, a particular Ray Charles album recorded live at
the Olympia Civic Theatre in Los Angeles in 1964, wherein his voice
throughout threatens the authority of the audio equipment employed to limit
its dynamic volatility. When he sings low, the sound relaxes open like a
dilated pupil, saturating with intimacy and color; and when Ray becomes
fierce and pounces, it flares like a bulb being fed a wild surge of unmetered
electricity, distorting like a fine line of ink being pulled into fuzzy bloom by
thick and fibrous paper; and in truth, I wanted every sound to argue
containment and speak like a living soul breaking out of a flat, still
photograph and into vivid animation; wanted everything with its holy
fractures in view.

I instinctively felt and still do feel that these songs could flourish no other
way than being thrown headlong into the proverbial sea that would both
toss them high and then pull them under into depths from whence none
would emerge without 'the bends' that would leave them disoriented and
walking oddly though steadfastly forward. The songs, after all, each initially
surfaced to tease my reach like shadows in a fever dream: all of them
naked and asking after succor –all of them reconciling not only light in
darkness, but the light within darkness; of it: yielding what light itself shall
never; all of them wanting not only for love, but to be fairly seen without
judgment ––as every prodigal son and daughter longs to be.
And I embrace them here and all; am liberated, and accept that though of
my own invention, these songs nonetheless will survive as they do, and
well outside of my control, wild imaginings, and inevitable misgivings. So
may it ever be.
They will, alas, break my heart, somehow; and in so doing, make me
whole, I want to believe. Like the endless party in the apartment upstairs,
they are noisy and unnerving to me even now; and by morning will leave
empty bottles and un-mated shoes in their wake.
And in this way I shall follow them on.



Produced by Joe Henry
Recorded and mixed ‘live’ to stereo tape by Ryan Freeland
at United Recording, Studio B; Hollywood, CA
February 21 and 22; March 29 and 30, 2017

Recording assistance provided by Monique Evelyn
Mastered by Kim Rosen at Knack Mastering, Ringwood, NJ

Joe Henry – vocals and acoustic guitar
Jay Bellerose – drums and percussion
Levon Henry – all reeds, raw and cooked: alto and tenor saxophone; B-
flat, alto, and bass clarinet; whistling
David Piltch – upright and electric bass
John Smith – acoustic and electric guitar; backing vocals
Patrick Warren – piano, Hammond organ, Wurlitzer electric piano,
Chamberlin; String arrangement for “Keep Us In Song”

The Section Quartet
Eric Gorfain - first violin
Daphne Chin – second violin
Leah Katz – viola
Richard Dodd – cello

Asa Brosius – pedal steel

Joey Ryan – backing vocals

All songs by Joseph Lee Henry and published by Deal Notes/Plainspeak
Music (ASCAP), except “Now and Never,” by Joseph Lee Henry and
Kenneth Pattengale: Big Deal Notes/Plainspeak Music/Dr Caulwell And Co
(ASCAP). All rights administered by Words & Music, a division of Big Deal
Music LLC
Cover photography by Michael Wilson: "Marilyn's Hands" / "Tendril" (2016)
Portrait of JH by Glen Hansard; Co. Kildare, Ireland (May, 2017)
Design by Anabel Sinn

Management: David Whitehead with Brian Hultgren for Maine

Visit Joe's renewed official  website : Joe Henry Loves You Madly

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