“Dear friends, Greetings from the mid Coast of Maine, where the bracing autumn chill…” – these are the first words of the press kit delivered alongside the album featured in this review. Truly, Joe Henry and his album All The Eye Can See feels to be special. I just had to give it a deeper listen and share it with you. Release date has been 27th January 2023.
Joe Henry – About The Artists
Joe Henry is an alternative country and country folk singer-songwriter, guitarist and producer. Born in Charlotte, North Carolina, on 2nd December 1960, he is an active musician since the age of 25. At this time, he also debuted on the album side with Talk of Heaven. Since then, he added one EP (Fireman’s Wedding in 1994) and fourteen albums, so that All The Eye Can See is already his sixteenth album. A couple of these album have been re-recorded in the meantime. However, he also worked very successful as a producer, his name is credited on song by acts like Elvis Costello, Joen Baez, Aaron Neville or Bonnie Raitt. He also wrote the song Stop, which is the basis for Don’t Tell Me by Madonna.
Joe Henry – All The Eye Can See – Track by Track
The fourteen track album lasts 53 minutes.
1. Prelude To Song
The first seventy second of the album feature exactly what the title is “promising”: a prelude to the songs thereafter. Some spherical sounds to lead into Song That I Know.
2. Song That I Know
Oh, Absalom, Absalom ––what do you say?
my horses refuse all this work without pay;
I plied them with beads and
I’ve gambled that they
knew nothing of how we live free
The first song is a piano-backed up narration. Beautiful storytelling which is just on point. Lovely first step into the world of this album.
The third track of the album is significantly more melodic than the song, featuring folk elements and country music vibes. Again, Henry is demanding a deep listen to his very emotional picturesque description of the Mission.
The fourth song is allowing itself to begin with a thirty minute violin intro, before Henry is starting to tell the story of Yearling. Nice support by a female backing voice as well (I unfortunately don’t have the credits to name her).
5. Near To The Ground
Yes, there we were, on the floor of your room,
talking at length of your mother––
counting her scars like the rings of a tree
tell stories of lightening and thunder.
The fifth song is again very slow and intense. The strings in the background lead to a rather harmonic atmosphere, though. Great work on the instrumental side.
6. Karen Dalton
Joe Henry is honoring an artist and songwriter colleague in the longest song of the album. Karen J Dalton was born in Texas in 1937 and died in Hurley, New York, just outside Woodstock, in 1993. She majorly did country and jazz songs. Lovely way of praising her in this track.
So, catch me if I go astray
or if I run aground,
but leave me if I’m falling free
Either up or down
7. O Beloved
The strings and the instrumentation in the background give O Beloved a touch of classic music and jazz. The song is very personal and intimate – the saxophone solo in the middle of it finally leads to another emotional highlight.
8. God Laughs
The next song is the 3:34 minute God Laughs – and in fact, I do feel some happy and positive vibes in here. Lovely melody, which leads to one of the hidden gems of the album.
9. Kitchen Door
And I ask aloud just where you are
and think I hear you say,
“I’m everywhere, my love, that you can find”
The song comes with such a nice and warm atmosphere, it is truly one of the most lovely experiences while listening to the album. Very emotional one.
10. Small Wonder
This song is taking you on a fantastic voyage. A gong and other elements are creating a beautiful atmosphere – and a lot of thoughts and pictures in your mind. Very dramatic sound. I simply love to listen to this song.
11. All The Eye Can See
Joe Henry used All The Eye Can See to tease the album. The title track feels very ballad-alike and comes with a lot of emotions. Love it.
Trouble begins at waking,
The weight of the world near-breaking
iIs wave on the heart’s undertaking
Of all the eye can see
12. Pass Through Me Now
Almost five minute long, Pass Through Me Now is just another proof of the lovely songwriting talent of Joe Henry. Apart from that, the song might not feature too many new items. But that would be trying to raise the bar on an already great album.
13. Prologue to Song
The second interlude to the album. 70 seconds before the very last song of the album.
14. Red Letter Day
The slow Red Letter Day is a beautiful closing listen of the album. The song feels like a duet.
Oh, now’s the day for all your tears and mine,
For now’s the time,
Oh now’s the time,
Joe Henry – All The Eye Can See – Spotify
Here is the album on Spotify
Joe Henry – All The Eye Can See – My View
If you want to have a pop-alike album with a lot of party feeling, Al The Eye Can See is not the right option for you. However, the 2023 Joe Henry publication is a piece of excellent songwriting. If you give it a deeper listen, you will love it. Great one!
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