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.

Our Rating
4 Stars - Excellent
Average Rating
(2 user ratings) ADD YOURS Help
Release Date
October 11, 2011
Browse All Music Reviews By: