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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

July 2018
1
American Aquarium
93 pts.
Things Change
New West
BK,TJ,JB
2
Gretchen Peters
56 pts.
Dancing With The Beast
Proper Records
ML,GF
3
Patrick Sweany
51 pts.
Ancient Noise
Nine Mile Records
FC,RK,BM,CVL,TK
4
Dave Alvin & Jimmie Dale Gilmore
47 pts.
Downey To Lubbock
Yep Roc
SP,JBO,JJC
5
Melissa Carper & Rebecca Patek
34 pts.
Brand New Old-Time Songs
Independent
 
6
Ry Cooder
33 pts.
The Prodigal Son
Perro Verde Records
DH
7
Jenny van West
32 pts.
Happiness To Burn
Independent
RST,NC
8
Brooks Williams
30 pts.
Lucky Star
Red Guitar Blue Music
 
9
Levi Parham
29 pts.
It's All Good
Continental Records
 
10
I See Hawks in LA
26 pts.
Live and Never Learn
Western Seed Records
WR
11
Rory Block
25 pts.
A Woman's Soul
Stoneyplain Records
MB,AL
12
Phil Cook
24 pts.
People Are My Drug
Thirty Tigers
LK,JD
13
Mike Aiken
23 pts.
Wayward Troubadour
Northwind Records
BP
14
Karen Jonas
22 pts.
Butter
Independent
HVB
15
Buckley
21 pts.
Las Cruzes
Rum Bar Records
 
 
John Prine
21 pts.
The Tree of Forgiveness
Oh Boy Records
 
17
Neko Case
20 pts.
Hell-on
Anti Epitha
MW
 
Sam Lewis
20 pts.
Loversity
Loversity Records
HDB
 
Verbraak Van Bijnen
20 pts.
Endless Road
CRS
HH,TV
20
Jesse Dayton
19 pts.
The Outsider
Blue Elan
LM,SZ
21
Dieter van der Westen Band
18 pts.
Me and You
Independent
 
 
Hadley McCall Thackston
18 pts.
Hadley McCall Thackston
Wolfe Island Records
CRS
 
Willie Nelson
18 pts.
Last Man Standing
Legacy
 
24
Carter Sampson
17 pts.
Lucky
Continental Song City
 
 
Tami Neilson
17 pts.
SassaFrass!
Outside Music

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