Do not mistake Joe Henry for some easy listening FM chump slobbering all over his sleeves for ill interpretations of bygone influences. Instead, Fuse is uniquely Joe Henry opening and mending wounds that are universally familiar to all of us at one time. Henry’s laments, “Monkey and Angels,” is a perfect one-two punch that starts the bleeding. This is not self-loathing Greg Dulli style, but shows enough disdain to drown yourself with scotch and a beer chaser for fun. Henry’s grainy voice is the salt needed for the cleansing of a broken sometimes-bitter heart. In contrast to his tongue-in-cheek pain, is a excursion that requires no grainy voice, but that of a wailing jazz guitar set to moody rhythms and beats. “Curt Flood” is a moving piece that reminds one of the calm before the storm.
As advertised, Joe walks down the old familiar path of broken promises the rest of the disc and ends with a 1939 pie in the face, “We’ll Meet Again.” This is a fine album that requires nothing more than a good man feeling bad. Buy a round for the sorry son of a bitch next to ye!
Mammoth Records, The Broadstreet Building, 101 B Street, Carrboro, NC 27510-1834; http://www.mammoth.com