This long-lost debut of Joe Henry is a mixed bag compared to his later material. Fans of "Trampoline" or "Fuse" may want to take a pass but if you enjoy "Murder of Crows" and "Shuffletown", then this one belongs in your collection. Some songs have that over-produced mid 80's sound (reminds me of the first Bruce Hornsby record)but the more "spare" stuff sounds pretty vital. At it's core, TOH is still Joe Henry with everything you'd expect…sharp lyrics, nice melodies, the cover song (although Mellencamp's cover of "Wild Night" is better), etc. One nice surprise is more singer and piano material then his later work. If your devotion to Joe includes his early stuff, add this to your delight. For those into his last two discs, don't dig back quite so far. Try "Short Man's" or "Shuffeltown" instead.
Major label release, a name producer, noted session men, this album couldn't lose, right? Well, not quite. Although time has caught up with Murder of Crows, sometimes Joe Henry gets lost amidst all the busy work and fancy arranging of his songs. True, there are some great songs here, notably "Six Feet in the Country," "Here and Gone" and "Step Across the Mountain" which will remind one a lot of Counting Crows. Here is a glimpse at a young songwriter being pushed too quickly to come up with the goods. Sometimes, the waiting is the hardest part…
Songwriter Joe Henry has recorded five albums in the 21st century; he’s also become a Grammy-winning producer. These more recent records (of 12) offer a mature view of an artist at his most musically ambitious and lyrically cagey. Reverie, as its title implies, contains 14 songs that seemingly center on the concept of time: the random glinting of memory as it perceives love, loss, spirituality, history, and culture refracted through the gaze of the human heart. Musically, it feels like the loosest album Henry’s ever recorded; its production techniques are organic, live sessions were cut in his home studio with the windows open, allowing the sounds of everyday life–barking dogs, mothers calling children, cars and trucks– to pour through, making them part and parcel of the album's fabric. Henry's lyrics and melodies do, however, contrarily reveal an exacting craftsman. He and his guitar are accompanied by longtime associates, drummer Jay Bellerose, pianist Keefus Ciancia, and bassist David Piltch, with cameos by Patrick Warren, Marc Ribot, Jean McLain, and Lisa Hannigan. His lyrics – scattershot, mercurial expressions of memory – are caught in exacting rhymes that reflect on the power, delight, and torment of desire (he admits as much at the end of his liner essay). The musical forms are more rhythmically inventive and slippery; they serve his ephemeral, evocative lyrics by opening them up to time’s uncageable nature.
In March 2016 Billy Bragg and Joe Henry, guitars in hand, boarded a Los Angeles-bound train at Chicago’s Union Station looking to reconnect with the culture of American railroad travel and the music it inspired. Winding along 2,728 miles of track over four days, the pair recorded classic railroad songs in waiting rooms and at trackside while the train paused to pick up passengers.