Production

Heath Cullen’s ‘Springtime In The Heart’ available now

HC1Joe Henry has returned to the producer’s chair on the new record from Australian singer-songwriter Heath Cullen.  Springtime In The Heart features not only JH at the helm but a whole band of his A-listers – Jay Bellerose, Jen Condos, Patrick Warren, Levon Henry and Adam Levy – to support Cullen on the record.  The result captures a unique spin on a sound that sits somewhere along the spectrum of classic Tom Waits/Joe Henry/Elvis Costello.  Fans of Joe’s production work will not be disappointed and fans of Heath Cullen – and great songwriters in general – will find much to love here.  This is a warm introduction (for me) to Cullen’s talent and a welcome return to production for JH.

The record is available exclusively on Bandcamp.  Cullen recently offered this explanation as to why you won’t find his album on any large streaming services.  You can also support him in various ways via his Patreon page.  He has developed an impressive discography over the years – his previous records featured players like The Imposters, Jim Keltner and Marc Ribot – by building a grass-roots following in his homeland and beyond.

Also, check out this fantastic video on the making of Springtime In The Heart

And here is a video from the studio for the title track…

And, finally, Heath’s recent take on JH’s “Time Is A Lion”…

 

Josh Hurst reviews Allen Toussaint’s ‘American Tunes’ (out now)

Toussaint_MWilsonToday marks the release of the late Allen Toussaint’s follow-up to his Joe Henry-produced 2009 album The Bright Mississippi.  By now, you’ve read how the recording of American Tunes preceded Toussaint’s untimely passing by only a couple of weeks.  And Joe himself has indicated in interviews how Toussaint very nearly backed out of those final sessions.

Which is to say that American Tunes is not merely  a wonderful record – which it certainly is – but also a great blessing, allowing us to hear Allen Toussaint’s tremendous talent represented one last time.

So please enjoy this affecting review of American Tunes by our good friend and exceptional writer, Josh Hurst.

(More release day press and coverage in the post below.)

Interviews and reviews for Toussaint’s ‘American Tunes’

JH_AllenToussaint_2005Sadly, Joe Henry will shoulder much of the press responsibilities for the late Allen Toussaint’s final record, American Tunes, due this Friday on Nonesuch Records.

Here are couple of nice articles from Toussaint’s hometown of New Orleans, prominently featuring comments from JH:

And here’s an updated roundup of reviews for the album:

Allen Toussaint’s ‘American Tunes’ available to stream at NPR

Toussaint_MWilsonWith all of the excitement surrounding Nowhere Else Fest, let’s not forget that Allen Toussaint’s final album of recordings American Tunes will be released on June 10.  You can listen to the whole thing over at NPR Music.

I had the chance to hear it in its entirety over the weekend, and I can tell you it is a worthy successor to The Bright Mississippi but also very much its own thing.  Toussaint’s death was a shock to all, but it is substantial comfort to hear the master one last time.

The Story Behind Allen Toussaint’s ‘American Tunes’

Nonesuch has posted a lovely essay by Michael Hill detailing the making of Allen Toussaint’s final album, American Tunes.  You can read several excerpts from the liner notes, including quotes by album producer Joe Henry.

American Tunes will be released on June 10.

Joe Henry Odds N Ends: Late Spring Edition

It’ll hit 90 degrees in Houston this week, so I figured time was running out to post any Late Spring JH news…

  • As previously mentioned, JH will appear at Over The Rhine’s Nowhere Else Festival over Memorial Day weekend.  You can get a clearer picture of what to expect at the festival’s website.
  • In addition to the new Allen Toussaint record (due June 10), there are several new production projects due in 2016:
    • Chely Wright’s new album I Am The Rain will be released in September.
    • Canadian singer-songwriter Rose Cousins has recorded a new record with JH and will be released later this year (you can pre-order the record from her website to receive it sometime prior the official release).
    • JH’s own website lists a new production from Austrian band Son of the Velvet Rat.
  • Stefan has a terrific new interview with Birds of Chicago, conducted while they were on tour in Europe.
  • JH will appear with Rosanne Cash on June 20 in Los Angeles at an event called Composed: The Intersection of Poetry and Song.  Reservations are closed but you can stand-by for admission on the day of the event.
  • JH will open for Rhiannon Giddens at her date this summer at Prospect Park Bandshell as part of the Celebrate Brooklyn! series (announcement on May 10).
    (UPDATE:  Sorry, this was from 2015 – my mistake.  But if you are going to be in the NYC area in July, why not check this out?)
  • There is an amazing interview with engineer Ryan Freeland, conducted by Steve Dawson for his Music Makers and Soul Shakers Podcast.  Dawson has also interviewed Bill Frisell, Mary Gauthier and, most recently, Marc Ribot.  (Also available on iTunes)
  • And speaking of Ribot, as you may recall, he and JH performed as a duo at the recent Big Ears Festival in Knoxville (read Josh Hurst’s review of the show here).  You can watch much of the performance on YouTube in four parts (see below).

Big thanks to Stefan Vandenberghe for keeping us updated when I am sometimes slacking off!

Allen Toussaint’s final recordings ‘American Tunes’ to be released June 10

Toussaint_AmericanTunesIf there was a silver lining to the sudden passing of Allen Toussaint late last year, it was the news that he had just completed a record with producer Joe Henry.  Toussaint was deeply connected to Joe Henry for the last decade of his life, with the two collaborating on multiple projects including The River In Reverse with Elvis Costello and Toussaint’s own late-period masterpiece The Bright Mississippi.

Now comes word that Nonesuch will release their final collaboration, American Tunes, on June 10.  This long-gestating project includes Toussaint’s take on songs by many New Orleans and American song giants, such as Professor Longhair, Duke Ellington and Paul Simon.  The record is anchored by the rhythm section of Jay Bellerose and David Piltch, with Greg Leisz, Charles Lloyd, Rhiannon Giddens, Bill Frisell and Van Dyke Parks.  The album was recorded during two sessions: the first in New Orleans in 2013 and the second in Los Angeles in October, 2015.

You can read the full press release at Nonesuch’s website.  The 2-LP vinyl edition will include three bonus tracks.  Pre-orders (from iTunes or Nonesuch) include an instant download of “Big Chief.”

I guess it goes without saying that this will be a tremendous release for fans of Allen Toussaint, not to mention those of us who particularly revered his work with Joe Henry.

And a little preview of the record…

Hayes Carll’s ‘Lovers and Leavers’ out today

Hayes_2016_3Hayes Carll’s stunning new record Lovers and Leavers is out today.  He will embark on a brief Texas tour before heading off to the UK at the end of the month, then back Stateside for dates through the summer.

As you may have noticed, I’ve been anticipating this release since Carll first announced last year that he’d be recording it with Joe Henry at the production helm.  His stated purpose at that time was to create something a bit more introspective, downplaying perhaps some of the rambunctious humor of his earlier work (i.e. “She Left Me For Jesus”).

Lovers and Leavers is certainly quintessential Carll – quieter, more reflective, for sure, but not without his trademark insight and humor.  It is perhaps the most spare record Joe Henry has ever produced, placing the emphasis squarely on Carll’s voice and guitar, underpinned by the percolating rhythm section of Jay Bellerose and David Piltch, occasionally accented by the keys of Tyler Chester and pedal steel of Eric Heywood.  Interestingly, this is easily Carll’s most personal and often revealing album of songs, but each tune is credited with a co-writer, an approach that Carll has said brings added perspective to his own voice.  Check out the very personal “The Magic Kid” (written with Darrell Scott) for evidence that Carll has brilliantly found ways marry personal details with universal truths about innocence and fearlessness.

Hayes Carll could not have found a more sympathetic producer than Joe Henry for this record, which is no doubt a significant milestone in Carll’s career.  As a fan of both artists’ work long before this collaboration, I can wholeheartedly say that it has exceeded my hopes in every way.

Please check it out.  Here’s a quick review and press roundup:

And from those Folk Alley 30A Sessions, here is Carll with the incomparable Allison Moorer on “Love Don’t Let Me Down” (not performed as a duet on the album, btw)…

Joe Henry interview with The Bluegrass Situation

A new interview with Joe Henry always leaves you with plenty to absorb.  So enjoy this one with The Bluegrass Situation’s esteemed Stephen Duesner, as part of their ongoing The Producers series.

They begin with a discussion of the new Hayes Carll album, but there are plenty of insights from JH on his role as record producer.

Hear the new Joe Henry-produced Hayes Carll album now

Hayes_2016_3I guess it’s no secret that I’m very excited about the new Hayes Carll record Lovers and Leavers – first, because it’s a new Hayes Carll record (following a five year wait), and second, because it was produced by Joe Henry.

The album will be released next week on April 8, but you can listen to the whole thing at Rolling Stone now, accompanied by a substantial article.  Carll will host his gathering of the Drunken Poets’ Society this weekend in Port Aransas, Texas, then promote the album’s release with a brief Texas tour before embarking on a late-April UK tour.  He’ll hit much of the United States throughout the summer (tour dates here).