New Music Friday Vol. 6

A GRAMMY winner visits Nat, soul is alive and well, and one of my absolute favorite artists of all time makes a personal admission that will surprise no one who's heard his music.


Joe Henry - Thrum

Joe Henry is one of my all-time favorite musicians. His songwriting is poetic and his record production satisfies that same poetic temperament. So, when he made a bafflingly big deal of admitting to reading and writing poetry in a recent LA Times interview, I stared blankly at my screen and said, "well, obviously." I don't mean to diminish his experience or vulnerability, but the thing that seemingly makes him feel self-conscious, is also a central component of why I love his work.  

Almost no one can release an album and elicit in me such anticipation as Joe Henry can. Listening to a new Joe Henry record is an experience I reserve now for almost no other recording. His music often has the best of America in it. Roots, dirt, criticism, jazz, optimism... His is a unique voice as poet/artist that I at once soak up and marvel in yet can't claim to fully understand. It's that wonder and awe of something that still somehow feels and sounds like home that excites me.

I almost don't want to listen to any tracks before I have the full album in my hands, but I did listen (only once) to the track below, and I can joyfully report that it doesn't disappoint my expectations.

If you want to beat me to it and listen to the full album, you can do so through that LA Times link above. I don't know what a new Joe Henry listener's experience will be. I'd sincerely love to know what you think.

Curtis Harding - Face Your Fear

I only recently stumbled across Curtis Harding. His first album, Soul Power, is modern, classic soul with occasional hints of punk tossed in. If you want some groove in your life, I have a feeling Harding can provide. And from what I can tell, on this new album, he does. It sounds every bit as good as his first one.

Gregory Porter - Nat "King" Cole & Me

I'm not yet a Gregory Porter fan. To be fair, I'm not sure if I've ever made it through an entire album of his, so I haven't really given him a reasonable chance. I think he understands the jazz idiom (that's not in question), and people sure do like him (he won a GRAMMY in 2014). His voice is intriguingly weathered, but it hasn't immediately arrested me like some singers do. I want to give it a proper chance to win me over.

And male jazz singers have become a rare breed. That makes me want to listen to more and see what Porter is up to. I'm particularly interested in hearing this recording because he sites Nat "King" Cole as an idol and a primary influence. In the few tracks I've heard, the lush, sweeping orchestrations are my gateway in. I want to like Porter, so maybe through his idol's music, I can find a way for him to sing to me.

Brian HinmanComment