By Joe Henry, from the forthcoming Invisible Hour; streaming at npr.org
Joe Henry is know more for his production work (with Loudon Wainwright III, Solomon Burke, Meshell Ndegeocello, Gwyneth Paltrow … wait, what?), and yet he’s about to release his 13th solo album.
The disc’s poetic first track is Sparrow, a graceful meditation on mortality: “Hey look alive, the end of days, our very blood tastes like honey now.”
Like many of his compositions, the song sings fluidly, independent of his own voice. The strum is easy and soulful, helped along by an acoustic slide. Female harmonies join late, around the time Henry gets to the part about memories, singing in a tree and waiting for one grave angel. Sunset is near; Joe Henry makes it sound so sweet.