One Track Mind: Joe Henry, “Lead Me On” from Invisible Hour (2014)

This is a love story, told from inside a heart — not meant for public consumption, in the broadest sense of the word. This isn’t How I Met Your Mother; it’s how I found a way to express something that maybe only I understand. Joe Henry, in this lead track from the forthcoming Invisible Hour is talking to himself about something that’s bigger than words, bigger than a song — bigger than anything you could describe, much less put into rhyming pentameter.

That’s the beauty of his music, the grace of it, and the lasting wonder. Things like “Lead Me On,” so unadorned and yet some complex, aren’t for everyone. Sometimes, you’re not even sure if they are for you, they come across as so personal, so very real. Unravelling their mysteries becomes its own reward.

See, for all of the more mainstream work Henry has done with the likes of Allen Toussaint, Bonnie Raitt, Mavis Staples and Carolina Chocolate Drops, among others, his solo recordings have an oaken, interior texture that sometimes feels very much like wandering around someone’s house when they are not home — simultaneously revealing but yet deeply enigmatic, because the puzzle pieces aren’t necessarily laid out in a linear narrative.

Henry sings, even as Lisa Hannigan shades him beautifully, with a bracing confidentiality, a conversational tone that hints at the process behind Invisible Hour. Despite this being the first project under his own name in something like three years, Henry actually recorded the new album — due June 3, 2014, via his Work Song imprint — in a little more than three days at his home studio in South Pasadena. If that sounds like it happened in a rush of inspiration, of emotion and meaning, then “Lead Me On” confirms it.

Nick DeRiso

Over a 30-year career, Nick DeRiso has also explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz, Ultimate Classic Rock and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Contact him at nderiso@somethingelsereviews.com.

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