Joe Henry's 'Invisible Hour' Set for June 3; Stream "Lead Me On"

Press Release: Singer/songwriter and Grammy winning producer Joe Henry has confirmed the June 3rd release of his thirteenth album Invisible Hour, his first since 2011's acclaimed Reverie. Produced by Henry and to be released on his own Work Song label, the album features numerous guests including The Milk Carton Kids as well as Lisa Hannigan, who co-wrote the title track along with Henry and best-selling novelist Colum McCann. Stream lead track "Lead Me On" below.

These are all, perhaps, “songs about marriage;” says Henry of the album. But I should hasten to add that that is a personal observance, and recognized much after the fact. That thread —of commitment, surrender, and hair-raising mystical alignment— does indeed snake through the whole in ways both overt and peripheral, literal and metaphoric. But though marriage as a notion moves like significant weather through its rooms, it is really the redemptive power of love in the face of fear upon which this house is built. Love is the story; and the characters paw lustfully after it –formal pairings notwithstanding.

Recorded over four days in July 2013 at Henry's own Pasadena studio, The Garfield House, the album features Henry on vocals and acoustic guitar along with Greg Leisz on guitar and other stringed instruments; John Smith on guitar, mandola and backing vocals; Jay Bellerose on drums; Jennifer Condos on electric bass; David Piltch on upright bass; and his son Levon Henry providing all of the woodwinds.  Additionally, Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan of the Milk Carton Kids lend backing vocals throughout the album and Lisa Hannigan contributes vocals on "Lead Me On."          

The album follows a busy period for Henry who produced songs for Bonnie Raitt's Grammy-winning 2012 album Slipstream (including covers of two of his own), and produced Billy Bragg's acclaimed 2013 album Tooth & Nail. Henry also produced albums for Rodney Crowell and Mary Karr, Natalie Duncan, Hugh Laurie and Over the Rhine. In 2013 Henry released Furious Cool, his much-praised book about Richard Pryor's life and work, co-written with his brother, David Henry.

On April 12 and 13 Henry will perform a one-of-a-kind event with Over the Rhine and the Milk Carton Kids as part of a unique program at Duke University in Durham, NC. This all-star group will compose, perform and record an album of all-new songs engaging the Great American Songbook broadly and creatively. Later this summer, (after a two-week European run,) Henry will tour the U.S., kicking things off in San Francisco on June 20 before heading to LA, Boston, New York and other cities.

Joe Henry - "Lead Me On" (from Invisible Hour)

Joe Henry's note on his website:

My new album that stands trembling upon your threshold, Invisible Hour, is my 13th as a solo artist. It represents plenty to me beyond sheer endurance; and though I feel myself continuing to evolve daily (as we all must), I nonetheless believe, if allowed, that this stands as a defining moment for me personally and as artist.

Mind you: I have always delivered what I believed to be my best work at any given juncture; but I sometimes recognize in retrospect inadvertent fault lines at the borders between the songs themselves and their articulation; between production concepts and the songs they mean only to serve. With this album, though —at least in this honeymoon period— I feel instead that the work all of us did in conjuring the music those four days late last summer has disappeared into the songs themselves, leaving behind no paint cans nor scaffolding; no baggage the songs were not themselves already carrying upon arrival. I mean that I hear in this final rendering, alas, no finality at all, but, rather, possibility —for liberation, for acceptance, for real-time revelation— as if the songs herein are inviting me into adventure as opposed to my simply securing them within a frame.

The songs lean into and out of folk tradition as pieces of writing, perhaps, and evidence my earliest loyalties; yet while that offered all of us a tonal bedrock, and suggested the steely rumble of acoustic instrumentation to be an appropriate point of demarcation, it also enforced mystery as a historic fact; and as such, every musician on the date sang and played less to earthly parameters and more to ghostly communion with discovery, with love in all its forms.

You will read in the album’s accompanying liner notes my suggestion that these are all, perhaps, “songs about marriage;” but I should hasten to add that that is a personal observance, and recognized much after the fact. That thread —of commitment, surrender, and hair-raising mystical alignment— does indeed snake through the whole in ways both overt and peripheral, literal and metaphoric. But though marriage as a notion moves like significant weather through its rooms, it is really the redemptive power of love in the face of fear upon which this house is built. Love is the story; and the characters paw lustfully after it –formal pairings notwithstanding.

These songs and this music sound alive to me just now, I really want to say: romantic, mortal, and singularly of a piece: ranging, though all cut from a single bolt of coarse cloth.

I am very proud of the work, and am thus, for the first time, releasing it myself (in partnership with my management on our own Work Song label), in recognition of the changing landscape and in the spirit of true ownership in every sense of that word.

Simply stated, it is my intention to be as bold and creative in taking the music out into the world as I tried to be in writing and recording it. Perhaps I am just at the point in my life, as a person and as an artist, where I understand that erecting a fence between the two was somebody else’s idea. And it has worn out its welcome.

Joe Henry