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http://www.joelhenderson.com

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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September 2018

1
The Devil Makes Three
70 pts.
Chains Are Broken
New West
FC,JB,RK,TJ,LK
2
Jimmy LaFave
65 pts.
Peace Town
Music Road Records
PKO
3
Malcolm Holcombe
48 pts.
Come Hell Or High Water
Gypsy Eyes Music
FB,JBO
4
Cody Canada & the Departed
47 pts.
3
Blue Rose Records
CVL,DHO
5
Jeffrey Foucault
43 pts.
Blood Brothers
Blueblade Records
MB,SZ
6
The War And Treaty
42 pts.
Healing Tide
Thirty Tigers
FCE,AL,MG
7
Martha Fields
40 pts.
Dancing Shadows
Independent
SP,DH,RST,RW
8
The Weight Band
35 pts.
World Gone Mad
Must Have Music
DD,CRS,BM
9
David Olney
32 pts.
This Side Or The Other
Black Hen Music
LM
 
The Black Sorrows
32 pts.
Citizen John
Blue Rose Records
 
11
Robbie Fulks and Linda Gail Lewis
31 pts.
Wild Wild Wild
Bloodshot Records
GS
12
Hadley McCall Thackston
28 pts.
Hadley McCall Thackston
Wolfe Island Records
 
 
Nathan Bell
28 pts.
Er Gwaetha Pawb a Phopeth
Angry Stick
PK
14
Curse Of Lono
26 pts.
As I Fell
Submarine Cat Records
MM,JF
15
Ryan Martin
25 pts.
Gimme Some Light
High Moon
 
 
Stephen Simmons
25 pts.
Gall
Locke Creek Records
TK,HDB
17
Jason McNiff
23 pts.
Joy And Independence
At The Helm Records
 
 
Jim Lauderdale
23 pts.
Time Flies
Yep Roc
 
 
Kevin Gordon
23 pts.
Tilt and Shine
Crowville Media
MP
20
Eliza Gilkyson
21 pts.
Secularia
Red House Records
KG,JJC
21
Boz Scaggs
20 pts.
Out Of the Blues
Concord Records
BH,JSM
 
Lucero
20 pts.
Among The Ghosts
Thirty Tigers
JJ
 
Melissa Carper & Rebecca Patek
20 pts.
Brand New Old-Time Songs
Independent
MW
24
The Jayhawks
17 pts.
Back Roads and Abandoned Motels
Legacy
 
25
Lori McKenna
16 pts.
Tree
Cn Records

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