Joe Henry

Talk of Heaven

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Given Joe Henry's chameleonic career, it should come as no surprise that upon finally hearing his long-unavailable debut album Talk of Heaven (finally reissued in 1999 on Astor Place), it sounds quite unlike any other record in the singer/songwriter's catalog -- with its melancholy folk-rock approach (closest in spirit to his 1989 major label bow Murder of Crows), the disc almost collapses under the weight of its massive debt to Bob Dylan. Where by later efforts like Kindness of the World and Trampoline Henry's learned to channel his influences into something unique and organic, here he self-consciously apes his idols, suppressing his own natural instincts in the process -- in hindsight, one can certainly hear the emergence of a talent to watch, but judged solely on its own terms Talk of Heaven leaves a lot to be desired.

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