Joe Henry is as much acclaimed for the music he has not played as for the music he has. The veteran producer has left his imprint on albums by Ani DiFranco, Aimee Mann, Elvis Costello and Betty LaVette; his behind-the-scenes presence more than just a gig, but an education.
Civilians encapsulates both his talent and skill in an airy song-set that breathes with debonair tension, Henry’s expressive vocals bound to the ebb and flow of upright bass and bone-rattle drumming. This music is made to fill high, arced ceilings, welcomed in by light and undulating curtains that gently sweep marble floors. Even at his most political, “Civil War,” the subject is approached with gentility, a gentleman’s bid for a dance to emotive tones.
Joe Henry’s career has often been obscured by the artists he has produced, but Civilians certifies his rightful place is in the limelight.