Style: Spare folk-pop; compare to Bob Dylan, Billy Bragg, John Wesley Harding
Top tracks: "Heaven's Escape," "Piano Furnace," "The World & All I Know"
Almost everything about the 12th full-length by singer/songwriter Joe Henry runs counter to the modern world of music production. This rambling collection of songs was apparently knocked out over the course of a few days by Henry in his basement studio, recorded live to tape with the most minimal of overdubs. And, apparently, he left the windows to his basement recording space open to allow the ambient sounds of the world around his home—barking dogs, traffic, wind—bleed into the proceedings.
The stripped down approach isn't what makes Reverie such a remarkable album. The songs here are some of the most heartfelt and moving Henry's ever written. But by rendering them in such an unadorned fashion, they are able to cut even deeper and resonate even longer.
Take for example the gorgeous album closer "The World & All I Know." The instrumentation is nothing more than a harshly picked acoustic guitar and the occasional melodic whine from an accordion. You can hear the real world that Henry references in the title and the lyrics moving around in the background as he sings about the forces that are changing his perception of everything he sees.
You see, there is "something green" or a "void of light" that is stepping between Henry and his life. However he describes it, the point seems obvious: Henry has been saved.
It's a thread that stitches together this entire album—from his description of God as a "border guard" protecting the fence that "stretched across my brow" dividing the "then and now" of his life in "Eyes Out for You," to the swaying, booming opening track "Heaven's Escape" that mocks his own sinful nature in the face of the truth that Henry "can look to no man to make me more than I am."
By opening the windows to the world, he is acknowledging it while still remaining separated from it. And he's singing his songs to the wind and the animals and the neighbors calling out for their children. He wants them all to hear how he is a changed man. Now, he wants the rest of the world to listen too.
Copyright © 2011 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more
Read These Next
- TrendingCompany that Trademarked ‘Worship Leader’ Makes Others Drop the TermPopular meme accounts lose social media pages after being reported by Authentic Media, which says it coined the phrase.
- From the MagazineBhutanese Nepali Refugees Turn Their Trials into Zeal for EvangelismThousands found Jesus while displaced, which prepared them to plant churches and settle in a new land.
- Editor's PickChristians, Stop ‘Giving Up God’ for LentIn an age of functional atheism, ‘tis the season for traditional fasting and prayer.