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This album is currently doing well in the EuroAmericana Chart, and it’s not hard to see why. Melding country influences with some high-grade pop treatments has worked well for Joel Henderson’s brand of thoughtful introspection.

              Having moved around a lot in his childhood, he is now based in Louisville, Kentucky – a place in the centre of America where he feels he has learned to find his own centre. These songs deal in various ways with the business of coming to terms with adult life – trying to make relationships work and working out how to cope with the “locked doors and pretty fences” that hem us in, some that we make for ourselves and some that circumstances impose. Making a commitment to the things that are going to work for us is the hard part and in the song Stranger he tells how he’s forever caught between “running away and walking tall for you”. Ultimately he knows that the crux of the matter is that “I am just a stranger without you” and that it’s good to have someone by his side.  

               Throughout this album, the mood is quiet and contemplative. Joel sings with steady deliberation, measuring each phrase carefully and allowing the soul to flow in to his extended notes. In Heidi Gluck he has a wonderful singing partner, adding so much without distracting from the central performance, whilst Stasia Demos makes a guest appearance as co-lead vocalist on Baby, I’m So Over You, adding some grit to the mix.  This song is written from one side of the break up but having them both expressing the same emotional confusion makes its point.

                The introspection of the lyrics is matched by quiet, unobtrusive arrangements, but sometimes the opportunity is taken to build a richer sound: no big drama but enough extra oomph to feel that this is something you might hear on the radio. Are We Running in particular sounds like it could become a pop moment: a steady driving drumbeat, twanging guitars and soaring harmonies in the chorus all add up to a song that might lodge in the consciousness. It’s also a moment where, lyrically, he’s talking about throwing it all up and starting over; it seems that the couple in the song have lost their house so he’s saying, effectively, what the heck? Let’s hit the road and see what else is out there. People have been writing about these themes for a long time but every generation experiences it afresh, and Joel Henderson has made his own thoughtful contribution to the canon.

John Davy

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www.euroamericanachart.eu

May 2018

1
John Prine
67 pts.
The Tree of Forgiveness
Oh Boy Records
JJC,MB,SP,RM
2
Levi Parham
58 pts.
It's All Good
Continental Records
CRS,JB,TK
3
Jeb Barry and the Pawn Shop Saints
55 pts.
Texas, etc...
DollyRocker
HDB,CVL,DHO
4
Michael McDermott
54 pts.
Out From Under
Continental Song City
JDO,LK,BK
5
Sam Morrow
48 pts.
Concrete and Mud
Forty Below Records
MA,JBO,HB
6
Caleb Caudle
39 pts.
Crushed Coins
Cornelius Chapel Records
 
7
Western Centuries
36 pts.
Songs From The Deluge
Free Dirt Records
MF
8
Carter Sampson
34 pts.
Lucky
Continental Song City
 
9
Charley Crockett
30 pts.
Lonesome as a Shadow
Son of Davy/30 Tigers
 
10
Courtney Marie Andrews
28 pts.
May Your Kindness Remain
Loose Music
JV
11
Ed Romanoff
27 pts.
The Orphan King
Pinerock Records
 
 
Joan Baez
27 pts.
Whistle Down The Wind
Proper Records
HD
 
Pharis and Jason Romero
27 pts.
Sweet Old Religion
Lula Records
SZ,LM
14
Gretchen Peters
24 pts.
Dancing With The Beast
Proper Records
KG
 
Old Crow Medicine Show
24 pts.
Volunteer
Columbia Records
GF
 
Will Stewart
24 pts.
County Seat
Cornelius Chapel Records
 
17
Ben Reel
22 pts.
Land Of Escape
B REEL Records
GC,FC
 
Birds Of Chicago
22 pts.
Love In Wartime
Signature Sounds
 
 
Emily Herring
22 pts.
Gliding
Eight 30 Records
RST,RH
20
Jenny van West
21 pts.
Happiness To Burn
Independent
PJ,FS,JJ
 
Mary Gauthier
21 pts.
Rifles And Rosary Beads
In the Black Records
 
22
Sarah Shook & The Disarmers
20 pts.
Years
Bloodshot Records
FCE
23
David Starr
19 pts.
South And East
Independent
HM
24
Cold Tone Harvest
18 pts.
After You
Independent
 
25
Grant Peeples
17 pts.
Settling Scores vol. 2
Continental

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