Upon first listen, Joe Henry’s blend of folk, blues and jazz on his 11th LP, Blood From Stars comes across as entirely too ambitious. The record struggles to find a happy medium and therefore, loses its groove very early on. Now, if chaotic is the spice which entices your tongue, then Blood From Stars might be for you. Odds are that you`re probably rather familiar with Henry and his extensive body of work, yet Blood From Stars really ought to be assessed without considering Henry`s back catalogue.
From the second track, “The Man I Keep Hid,” in which Henry tosses a stompy, Dylan-esque folk beat with frantic horns and keys, Henry seems quite good at throwing listeners a curveball and being a bit difficult just because he can.
Things begin to pick up on “Channel,” with a simple and optimistic key and drum swoon, before quickly losing steam with an emotionless chorus. On “Channel,” an on the rest of “Blood From Stars,” there are obvious flashes of brilliance. Yet when Henry blends aspects of folk and blues (Of which Henry does seem to be a student of) with difficult and isolating jazz resonance, he walks a very fine line.
“This Is My Favourite Cage” is yet another shining example of where Blood From Stars falls flat. What could have been a quick, brooding romp is unnecessarily drawn out into five minutes of grooveless noise. Stick Henry on a stage at a coffee house with nothing more than an acoustic guitar, and you might have something appealing. But Henry’s desire to blend tastes ultimately creates an unsatifying mess of a record.
By Joshua Kloke[Rating: 2/5]