Joel Henderson
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Joel Henderson

Louisville, Kentucky, United States | SELF

Louisville, Kentucky, United States | SELF
Band Americana Singer/Songwriter

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The Alternate Root Magazine, William Hurley – February 14, 2012
“Locked Doors and Pretty Fences is kind of a throwback to the days when a vinyl LP had two distinctly different yet somehow matching sides. It’s also a marvelous collection of organic music that draws water from the wells of folk, rock, gospel, blues and originality and pours it over an all-star cast of performers that allows the album to blossom into one of the most pleasant surprises of the year thus far. If a song can be judged by subtle lyrics that jump out and grab you even though you are completely drawn in by the music then Joel Henderson has to stand up and take his place in the discussion about really good songwriters. This is good folks, and it deserves some legitimate attention.” http://www.thealternateroot.com/news-and-reviews-in-the-alternate-root/americana/112-americana-newsin-the-alternate-root/736-joel-henderson-in-the-alternate-root

Scott Murray Bate, 25 Year Veteran Radio Program, Production, Music Director & On-Air Host – February 14, 2012
“I get a lot of CD’s and listen to a LOT of indie artists, Locked Doors & Pretty Fences is maybe the best CD I have picked up in awhile… Start to finish, every song is worthy of airplay; this from someone that spent decades in radio.”

Skope Magazine, Rebecca Hosking – February 9, 2012
“Joel Henderson’s latest release, “Locked Doors and Pretty Fences” is as refreshing as a warm spring day. His voice is captivating and has the power to smooth out any rough edges life can sometimes inflict. It is a journey through dreamy passages that leave you awestruck from its beauty.” http://skopemag.com/2012/02/09/joel-henderson-locked-doors-and-pretty-fences

babysue – February 1, 2012
“Henderson’s songs have a genuine sound…none of that computer generated junk here. Using mainly classic pop instruments Joel and crew present eleven classy tracks. Joel’s got a great voice and a wonderful knack for coming up with credible melodies. And the lyrics are top notch throughout. Nothing but keepers here but our own particular favorites include “Growing Up (Is Hard To Do),” “Curves,” “Are We Running,” and “Beyond the Fence.”" http://www.babysue.com/2012-Feb-LMNOP-Reviews.html#anchor85529

Cary Allen Fields, Host of “Fields of Bluegrass” & “Redbud Radio,” WICR Indianapolis – February 4, 2012
“[Locked Doors & Pretty Fences] is a gem top to bottom, folks! Ain’t come out of the player at our house since we procured our copy, that’s the truth. This thing is a revelation. [Henderson] gave us the greatest gift art can give a brother or sister bogged down in the day-to-day. Transcendence.” http://www.redbudradio.com

Laura Shine, on-air host at WFPK Louisville – February 7, 2012
“Locked Doors & Pretty Fences is filled with good songwriting, great melodies & musicianship. What’s not to like? It’s a beautiful record from start to finish.” - Various


If you like singer/songwriters there's a good chance you will really dig the music of Joel Henderson. This guy released an EP (High Risk) a few years ago that received quite a bit of critical acclaim. Henderson intended to record and release this album shortly after the EP came out but...well, things happen. And in this case, the delay was probably good because it allowed Joel to further focus his material and make some important connections. Locked Doors & Pretty Fences features the talents of some real heavyweights. Adding their stills to these recordings are Byron House, Scott Kellogg, Jason Wilber, Ric Hordinski, David England, Jake Burton, and Heidi Gluck. Joel currently lives in Louisville, Kentucky...which somehow seems peculiar. Usually when we hear an artist of this caliber they have already moved to larger cities where they can focus more on their career. Henderson's songs have a genuine sound...none of that computer generated junk here. Using mainly classic pop instruments Joel and crew present eleven classy tracks...all of which would have fit comfortably on FM radio station playlists in the early 1980s. Joel's got a great voice and a wonderful knack for coming up with credible melodies. And the lyrics are top notch throughout. Nothing but keepers here but our own particular favorites include "Growing Up (Is Hard To Do)," "Curves," "Are We Running," and "Beyond the Fence." - babysue


By Rebecca Hosking

Joel Henderson’s latest release, “Locked Doors and Pretty Fences” is as refreshing as a warm spring day. His voice is captivating and has the power to smooth out any rough edges life can sometimes inflict. It is a journey through dreamy passages that leave you awestruck from its beauty.

This CD is the perfect music to play after a long hard day at work. The melodic guitars arouse profound emotions that catch you off guard and start your blood pumping. Now your intensely listening and falling under his hypnotic spell as the words spill from his mouth like a waterfall. From the very first track, “Growing Up is Hard to Do”, he paints graceful pictures of indignation with angelic harmonies floating in the air that is icing on the cake.

This is what I call music with a brain. His lyrics are well thought out and serve as your guide through his intelligent lessons of living. He has a knack for using universal portrayals of everyday perceptions and making them feel brand new; and the subtle use of piano creates a soft welcoming feeling. This collection of songs is a photo album of sensations that tickle your ears ever so gently. I could go on all day with descriptive analogies.

This music provokes imagery and feelings I almost forgot existed. It was a nice wake up call to stop and smell the roses. What better music to be playing in the back ground than, Joel Henderson’s, “Locked Doors and Pretty Fences”. - Skope Magazine


By William Hurley

Locked Doors and Pretty Fences is kind of a throwback to the days when a vinyl LP had two distinctly different yet somehow matching sides. It’s also a marvelous collection of organic music that draws water from the wells of folk, rock, gospel, blues and originality and pours it over an all-star cast of performers that allows the album to blossom into one of the most pleasant surprises of the year thus far. If a song can be judged by subtle lyrics that jump out and grab you even though you are completely drawn in by the music then Joel Henderson has to stand up and take his place in the discussion about really good songwriters. This is good folks, and it deserves some legitimate attention.

“Side 1” is the heavier side. Surrounded by introspection and self-inflicted sadness or as Henderson himself admits: “… the barriers along the path to maturity. Sometimes the obstacles are obvious, sometimes they’re not. If we’re really honest with ourselves, they’re usually self-created out of fear or complacency.” The topics are well documented if not forever thirsting for a new take. “Curves” takes a soft but stark look at women, self-esteem and self-empowerment; particularly poignant during a time when women’s rights are under attack from power hungry old men with fancy titles like Senator, Congressman or candidate. “…Time to flush the demons down. In the name of the father who wasn’t around. Then emerge from the water and see the beauty you are. Don’t you know that you’re worth more than the sum of your curves?” That verse just leaps from the speakers along with the haunting harmonies from Heidi Gluck and sticks you right in your ribs. “Heartless Kisses” tackles the never welcome but ever present fading of love. Dancing between Procol Harum and the Eagles with tight harmonies between Henderson and Gluck, a wall of guitars and the sweet spinning of the Leslie from Bill Mallers’ Hammond B3, “Heartless Kisses” is a pop song that draws on the best from the much maligned genre of “Pop Music.” Henderson’s falsetto phrasing will inevitably draw comparisons to Don Henley especially within the context of the Eagles influenced guitar harmonies between David England and Jason Wilber.

What follows the fading of love? “Baby I’m So over You” of course…one of the most told lies in the history of the relationships as we never really are. “Should you find me baby, pacing back and forth. Know I’m goin’ crazy now crazy’s at your door. But I won’t knock, I’m no fool, cuz baby I’m so over you.” Side 1, as I like to call it, ends with “Stranger” and finds Henderson in search of his own identity. “I’m just a stranger in this land, with a one-in-a-million losing hand. What distinguishes me from the righteous man? Is it peace of mind or my foolish plans?” The band shines, the music breathes and the songs sing on multiple levels. Different on a Sunday morning than in the car on a rainy night, Locked Doors and Pretty Fences plays on mood and emotion.

“Side 2” is the redeemer of faith in love as a sacred institution between two people for moments in time, however brief or lengthy those moments may be. “Are We Running” is all about breaking away together, leaving the past behind and doing it with the one you love; the barriers along the path to maturity rearing up again. Henderson steps back into the “boxing ring” that is love on “One Kiss at a Time.” Compartmentalizing is a prerequisite to falling in love again after you’ve had your heart shattered but that uniquely human pain is necessary for any personal growth. One day at time, one step at a time or “One Kiss at a Time,” overcoming obstacles is a process. Hopefully Joel Henderson hasn’t exercised all of the demons yet and saved some for sides 3 and 4.

Grammy voters and radio programmers can struggle with what particular pigeon hole music has to be folded into and we're happy leaving it to them. The Alternate Root has always looked at music from an organic point of view and the more elements and texture music has the better we like it. Sometimes music just doesn’t have to be anything but good. Locked Doors and Pretty Fences is good. - The Alternate Root Magazine


By Kory Wilcoxson

The notion of "High Risk" fits what Joel Henderson does on several levels. It could describe the poker game pictured on the cover of the CD, or the risk involved in putting your name and voice on a CD in the first place. "High Risk" is also the title track, which warns of the gambles of entering into a relationship ("There are winners and losers in every hand."). But there's nothing risky at all about Henderson himself - this EP is as close as you'll come to a safe bet.

Originally released in 2003 as a DIY demo, Henderson is reissuing The High Risk EP in hopes of catching the ears of folks in his new hometown of Louisville. The six songs on High Risk are highly suggestive and yet put forth with just the right touch of simplicity. There's nothing overdone here, because nothing needs to be. Henderson's thoughtful lyrics and evocative voice are so strong that they easily carry each song into the listener's mind, stirring up familiar images and memories as if Henderson was standing right beside you.

A good example is "If Only We Would Talk," in which Henderson longs for a paternal relationship after a tragic death: "And at the wheel is my old man / Someone I don't know at all / Surely he could use a friend right now / If only we could talk." Similarly, his ache for a return of peace and hope in the Christmas-themed "Still I Want Nothing More" echoes a universal human longing for a new start. What's so amazing is that Henderson is able to convey these deep, existential desires in just a few poignant words.

Henderson can't be pinned down in terms of style; he easily glides from folk to soft-spoken pop, with a touch of country, as well. The label we can hang on Henderson is one of an enormously talented newcomer to the Louisville music scene who deserves to be heard. Odds are you'll like him a lot.

Check him out at www.joelhenderson.com. - The Louisville Music News


By Anthony Bowman

When Joel Henderson says he’s new to the Louisville music scene, he doesn’t mean he just moved here, or that he just started playing music.

“I’ve actually been here a couple of years. But when I moved down here initially, I sort of put the music stuff on hold. So musically speaking, I am new to town, but I have been living in town a couple years,” he explained.

Henderson hails from Chicago but began his career as a singer-songwriter in Indianapolis. He moved to Louisville a few years ago because he “met a girl.” In this equation, it looks like everyone wins. Henderson is engaged to be married in a few weeks to the same girl who drew him to Louisville, and the city’s music scene gained a talented singer-songwriter in the deal.

Henderson recently re-released 2003’s High Risk EP, a collection of six brilliantly executed songs in the singer-songwriter tradition, which tap the best elements of folk, country and indie pop. His haunting voice only makes his emotionally universal yet clearly personal lyrics all the more poignant. The record has been impossible to find for a while, which is why Henderson felt it necessary to re-issue.

“It had sold out so long ago that I had just decided, ‘Hey, you know what, I better just release it again.’ Like a fresh start, because when I first released it, it was really just a homemade thing. People really liked it, but I never really had it properly manufactured for one, so in a sense this is really its first honest-to-goodness release.”

Henderson is starting to perform often around Louisville, and he’s at Uncle Pleasant’s tonight. He’ll do songs from the High Risk EP with some new “more rocking” and “more jazz-based” material. Much of this new music is likely to appear on the new record Henderson is working on with the help of several local friends.

“Yeah, I’ve got the material and I’m starting to record it, but long story short, it’s a long process that takes a lot of resources, those resources being money,” he joked.

Appearing with Henderson tonight are local singer-songwriter Jamie Barnes and headliner Mark Geary, who got his musical start playing with Jeff Buckley but who has been performing on his own for several years and is working to make a name for himself.

Geary’s newest record, 2005’s Ghosts, has been compared to Buckley, Elliott Smith, Nick Drake and David Gray’s best work. One listen not only confirms these similarities, but also makes it clear that Geary and Henderson are well matched.

Catch Barnes, Geary and Henderson all at Uncle Pleasant’s tonight, and be on the lookout for future performances by Henderson. Despite his migratory past, he plans to be performing around the city for a while.

“I love Louisville. I would definitely say that I have every intention of placing roots here.” - LEO WEEKLY


By Joshua Hammann

The latest earnest lad to strap on his acoustic guitar and cannonball into the always-too-deep singer/songwriter end of the pool is Joel Henderson. Fortunately for Henderson, his voice and obvious emotional connection to his material are enough to splash a few posers out of his waters.

On "The High Risk EP," which he originally released in 2003, Henderson keeps his formula simple with soft vocals, some acoustic strumming and spare backing instrumentation. It all adds up to some familiar balladry in the vein of "Being There"-era Wilco.

"High Risk" checks in with a slight twang. "If Only We Could Talk" is a mournful lament about inability to connect with loved ones, and both "Love Remains True" and "Always Willing to Take Me In" are dark but ultimately hopeful.

"When Will It End" is bolstered by some gentle, well-placed piano and "Still I Want Nothing More," makes excellent use of some very electric notes.

It is a strong EP that proves Henderson can swim in the deepest end of the pool. - Velocity Weekly



“I cannot stress enough the importance of hearing The High Risk EP! It will be one of the best that you’ve ever heard in your life, and that is no stretch of the truth! Joel Henderson is an incredibly talented individual, whose simple approach to creating beautiful music really resonates with me. Very few albums really affect me the way this one has. In fact, I can probably count on one hand the CDs that I would place in a category with This High Risk EP. It is, and will remain, one of my very favorite CDs that I have had the privilege of writing a review for!” Mark Lush – midwestbands.com

“The High Risk EP is in the vein of the Paste Music catalog, and may be superior to anything currently offered there. If there is any justice in this world, Joel Henderson will have his next album produced by T-Bone Burnett and be 2004’s breakout artist a la John Mayer. Yes, it’s that good.” Brian Smith – The Phantom Tollbooth

“The songs were amazing. Joel truly has the songwriter’s gift.” Byron Schaller - inthecongo.org

“Joel's thoughtful craftsmanship displays a degree of sophistication rarely heard in young songwriters. He tackles the personal and the universal with equal mastery - with never a hint of schmaltz. This is a difficult task, and Joel's the real thing.” Kit Malone – Singer-songwriter (Higher Step Records) and host of the Fractured Folk Showcase

“Joel Henderson is a gifted songwriter, to be sure. He has the enviable ability to turn the simple and mundane into something beautiful lyrically. It is transcendent music. And that kind of music never goes out of style.” Stasia Demo – Middletown (Flat Earth Records)

“Something special happens when Joel sings. It’s not just his soulful voice, exquisitely honest lyrics and excellent musicianship. There is something more… A magical quality.” Scott Robinson – Production Director WENS, WNOU, WYXB, Indianapolis, IN

“A sound that ranged from school of Beatles meets Gordon Lightfoot, Neil Young, Lyle Lovett and James Taylor. Certainly not to compare his sound, but to compliment his intensity and uniqueness in performing ballads that would please a wide demographic. Henderson may be new to many markets, but with talent like that, he won’t be unknown for long.” Scott Murray Bate – Producer for the “Full Circle Radio Hour”, Rushville, IN

“Henderson cannot be typecast or tied to one particular style of music. The true-to-self songs are both heartfelt and flow evenly over the emotional strings of life. Joel Henderson is a must-see performer.” Frank Denzler – The Rushville Republican - Various Authors


Discography

Albums
Locked Doors & Pretty Fences (2012) - Full Length Band
Always Willing to Take Me In (2011) - Full Length Solo
High Risk (2011) - Remixed, Remastered, Song Changes
The High Risk EP (2006) - EP

Radio
As of 3/30/12, Locked Doors & Pretty Fences (released to radio 2/12) has been added to over 40 radio outlets in the US and Europe. This includes noncommercial, AAA, Americana, and Internet outlets. More added weekly.

Locked Doors & Pretty Fences reached number 9 on the EuroAmericana Chart in for March 2012.

The song High Risk, officially released in 2006, was featured on NPR's "Open Mic" to critical claim, and was the influence for a fan-made short film by the same name.

The demo version of song Interested Friend was included in award winning independent short film "Corduroy".

Photos

Bio

If the best songwriting comes from life experience, then singer-songwriter Joel Henderson has a deep well to draw from. Frequent moves as a child in the city-suburbs of Atlanta and Chicago, to small Indiana college towns, to finally landing in Louisville, Kentucky, coming of age in America’s Heartland has had a profound influence on Henderson as a writer. He explains: “I was born in the south and raised in the north; but it took the last decade or so in the middle for me to find balance, emotionally and artistically. Literally centering myself has influenced my interpretation of experiences in a way that seems to resonate.”

Henderson’s new album is a summation of his journey so far. Originally intended as an immediate follow-up to High Risk, a DIY EP he self-released, Locked Doors & Pretty Fences is essentially years in the making. Though he’s been writing steadily since then, the recording process took longer than he anticipated. “This album started as a homemade project I worked on between daily obligations – you know, the ‘you’re-not-a-kid-anymore’ type stuff.” As his recordings took shape, friend and manager Jeff Grantham took notice. “Jeff and I really felt my project had some legs. So with his help we recruited producer Paul Mahern, and things took off from there.”

On the overall theme of Locked Doors & Pretty Fences, Henderson describes: “It’s about the barriers along the path to maturity. Sometimes the obstacles are obvious, sometimes they’re not. If we’re really honest with ourselves, they’re usually self-created out of fear or complacency.” From the first verse of the opening track about relationships squandered, debts owed, and expectations unmet, to the record’s final track, a short song about a trepidatious peek at life beyond our self-made barriers, Henderson’s voice is at once an honest, sometimes raw, but ever hopeful examination of growing up.

On Locked Doors & Pretty Fences, Henderson combines folk, country, blues, gospel, and classic pop with equal reverence. His careful song craft suggests a noble intent to update the American standard. For instance, he makes a current theme like losing a house in a tough economy accessible and timeless by turning his song’s focus to the thrill of new-found freedom. To support Henderson’s sophisticated craftsmanship, Mahern enlisted a mean studio line-up. The roster of talented players includes bassists Byron House (Robert Plant’s Band of Joy) and Scott Kellogg, guitarists Jason Wilber (John Prine), Ric Hordinski (Over the Rhine) and David England, drummers Devon Ashley (The Lemonheads) and Jake Burton, and what appears to be an army of harmonic vocalists performed by one Heidi Gluck (Some Girls). Additional performances by Bill Mallers on Hammond B3, Fender Rhodes and piano, as well as Mick Sullivan’s banjo work, add to the album’s rich instrumentation. Recorded at White Arc Studios in Bloomington, Indiana, Locked Doors & Pretty Fences captures shades of heartland heroes like John Mellencamp, Bruce Springsteen, and James McMurtry; but Henderson’s tunes are also right at home on a playlist of contemporaries like Ron Sexsmith, Amos Lee, and Ryan Adams.

Though the journey may have been longer and more challenging than he expected, Henderson’s struggle paid off – Locked Doors & Pretty Fences is a gorgeously melodic and thoughtful endeavor. With this record, Joel Henderson takes aim at the metaphorical fences, walls, and doors that have held him back in the past, in hopes that maturity and self-awareness lead not only to self-realization, but also toward the prolific, successful music career he always intended.