Singer, songwriter and Grammy-winning producer Joe Henry visited the Paste Studio in New York on Tuesday to perform songs from his forthcoming album, Thrum. The album, Henry’s 14th, follows his widely praised 2014 outing, Invisible Hour, as well as his 2016 pairing with Billy Bragg, Shine A Light: Field Recordings From The Great American Railroad, which earned the duo a nomination for “Duo/Group of the Year” from the Americana Music Association. Recorded and mixed live to tape by Ryan Freeland (Bonnie Raitt, The Milk Carton Kids, Ray LaMontagne) over four days at Hollywood’s United Studios, the album’s 11 spiritually stirring originals feature longtime Henry collaborators Jay Bellerose (drums), Levon Henry (saxophone and all reeds), David Piltch (upright and electric bass), John Smith (guitar; backing vocals), Patrick Warren (piano, keys) as well as a string quartet and Asa Brosius on pedal steel.
“I recognize at this point of my professional creative life, and in ways that perhaps have not been true before, that I am seeking less to move along the paths of my earliest musical influences—whether Bob Dylan, Louis Armstrong, or Ray Charles, Duke Ellington, Randy Newman or Johnny Cash—and more toward true alignment with the mystic poets Rilke and Whitman, Rimbaud and Rumi, each of whom invariably worked to rectify the disparity of what it means to live fully while knowing we will one day cease to,” Henry said. “To live not in spite of the inevitable, but because of it; the poets whose spirituality was rooted in their wild humanity, and expressed by an erotically-charged lust for living itself well clear of any dogma or doctrine.”