Mercury-nominated Irish singer-songwriter Lisa Hannigan first gained attention in 2002, when she featured on Damien Rice's debut album, O. Her first solo album, Sea Sew, made in just two weeks, was nominated for the Mercury music prize in 2009 and a follow-up, Passenger, came out last September.
If an artist is known by the company he keeps, then Joe Henry must have baffled more than a few people. Over a career that spans more than two decades, the critically acclaimed songwriter and Grammy-winning producer has recorded albums that have been loosely and inaccurately categorized as rock, folk, jazz, and alt-country, and has worked with artists as diverse as Ornette Coleman, Elvis Costello, Allen Toussaint, The Jayhawks, Solomon Burke, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Brad Mehldau, Mavis Staples, and Madonna. Good luck trying to find the common musical denominator in those lists. Perhaps "great" is the best one can do, and Joe Henry is probably quite content to keep it that way.
Reverie, Henry's twelfth album, continues the eclectic, uncategorizable streak, and is the latest installment in willful genre obliteration and poetic exploration. Like most of the albums he's made for the past decade, Reverie is lounge music of a sort, but it’s music from the coolest lounge in the universe, the one where the piano player quotes T.S. Eliot and Raymond Chandler before last call, and where the patrons all drink their bourbon neat and play Tom Waits on the jukebox between sets. Call it lounge noir if you must, but whatever it is it’s desperate, and desperately tender, tinged with an aching sadness and the flicker of hope, with the increasing awareness that the small dramas enacted here and now are not really small at all, and that they echo and ripple through our lives.