Album review: Joe Henry – ‘Blood From The Stars’

Waitsian bluesy folk with a dark heart

Sidestepping the mannered folk perimeters of his last record in favour of something a little darker, Henry opens with a haunting instrumental called ‘Light No Lamp When The Sun Comes Down’, which hangs in the air unfinished, until it is picked up again at the end of the album and twisted into a melancholy lament on a stormy and chaotic love affair. The bluesy cabaret of ‘The Man I Kept Hid’ and the jazz-inflected lounge bar blues of ‘Bellweather’ seem remarkably similar to the type of music labelmate Tom Waits used to make way back, but minus his ineffable fevered growl. That’s what’s frustrating here – although, like Waits, he’s obviously a truly poetic lyricist, the instrumentation is much more engaging than Henry’s placid voice.

Tessa Harris

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