The songs and sounds on Joe Henry's raw and emotionally vital new record Blood From Stars are matched by the moodiness of the album artwork, which makes use of W. Eugene Smith's iconic photo "Dance Of The Flaming Coke" as well as an electrifying and haunted previously unpublished cover image (Untitled, 1952).
Part of Smith's epic, unfinished Pittsburgh series, the photos - shot in the early to mid 1950's - represent two of over 10,000 photos Smith took of the city as part of an ambitious, multi-tiered project that occupied the photo essayist for over three years of his life.
Speaking the same terse language, Blood From Stars, Henry's 11th album and third for Anti- Records, charts a darker journey for the prolific singer, songwriter and producer. Undoubtedly influenced by two recent records he produced - Allen Toussaint's The Bright Mississippi and Ramblin' Jack Elliott's A Stranger Here - Blood From Stars marries blues song form with jazz liberation; folk narrative with beat articulation. Henry has explored such genre confusion before, but never with more purpose. With simple characters that feel their way through fragmented narratives, the songs uphold Henry's reputation as a truly poetic lyricist, creating an album that is as immediate as it is evocative.
Blood From Stars is out August 18th.