JOE HENRY | Odetta

Master songwriter Joe Henry released a new song, “Odetta”, through the Anti- label. The track is from his upcoming October 11 release, “Reverie”, the follow-up to 2009’s “Blood From Stars”. He explained on NPR that the song was loosely created around the name, almost like a talisman beginning to he a song written around it. The only Odetta the singer knew of course, is the famed singer, and Henry tried everything to keep from pushing the song directly toward her. Henry is one of the best songwriters in America right now, and had been writing about the process of making music in a blog on the New York Times website. He and Rosanne Cash were kind enough to let readers in on their personal correspondence, when Cash asked for some guidance from Henry about a song. It was a pretty dialogue between two musicians who did a great service to their profession and craft. In a letter to fans on his website, Henry said his new record is entirely acoustic, and that “Reverie is a … I will confess to you … raw and raucous and messy affair. It had to be: the songs animating its body are themselves disheveled and unsettled; stitched together like one living scarecrow made from five … its arms and legs of varying lengths, head held with bailing wire …”  The album will feature virtuoso guitarist Marc Ribot, who has also played with Chocolate Genius and Tom Waits. “Odetta” is a rickety, piano-driven ballad with country and soul overtones. It’s a song that feels like it’s slowly coming undone, unraveling with an elegance only love can inspire. As always, the writing is beautiful: “My bones they rumble / In time will shift / (Want?) every plan I have laid / Clouds will crack and spill, descend and lift / Sharpen this light into the blade.” The songs topics are about a lost soul, the discovery of love, and the measure of ethereal things. Henry writes songs that change the way people look at the world. Every time I listen to his music it feels like an immeasurable gift. Note: Lyrics are unofficial. Tracklist is as follows: Heaven’s Escape, Odetta, After the War, Sticks & Stones, Grand Street, Dark Tears, Strung, Tomorrow Is October, Piano Furnace, Deathbed Version, Room at Arles, Eyes Out For You, Unspeakable and The World And All I Know. — David D. Robbins Jr.

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