Joel Henderson

Joel Henderson

 Louisville, Kentucky, USA
BandAmericanaSinger/Songwriter

Heartfelt lyrics and wit are at the core of many singer-songwriters, but the ability to translate feelings to others is where Joel Henderson sets himself apart. With true-to-self lyrics and timeless melodies, Henderson combines folk, country, blues, gospel, and classic pop with equal reverence.

Biography

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.

Lyrics

Growing Up (Is Hard to Do)

Written By: Joel Henderson

I’ve been missing the sun and the nights spent burning
I’ve been missing each of you
Growing up is hard to do

Now we’ve all got our debts to pay and there’s no room left for us to play
‘Cause they only want something new
Growing up is hard to do

Last night I heard a song in my dreams now it’s long gone
I don’t recall the words or tune
Growing up is hard to do
Don’t recall the last breath I drew
Growing up is hard, growing up is hard, growing up is hard to do

Heartless Kisses

Written By: Joel Henderson

There’s little left to offer
We’re caught on the edge of love
The truth may knock us over
But pretending just ain’t enough

We started off like a rocket
Burning hot and high
While charging all the others
With simply floating by, on

Heartless kisses

They warned us with their laugher
I guess their right it seems
Everything was cool ‘til
We got stuck in between, those

Heartless kisses

I don’t know what happened
We lived in every moment now life keeps passing us by

Please tell me there’s a future
With something more to love, other than

Heartless kisses
They ain’t enough

Learning to Love Loneliness

Written By: Joel Henderson

I’m learning to love loneliness
It’s like an old wooden door that always sticks
I can count on it with every kick
It will always open for me

I’m learning to love loneliness
Each passing day I miss you less and less
Everybody says that time will heal every wound
But I’m not yet sure

Now I’m learning that life is full of tests
Full of questions with no simple guesses
Locked doors and pretty fences
That may never open for me

Well I’m learning to love loneliness
Each passing day I miss you less and less
Everybody says that time will heal every wound
But I’m not yet sure that it’s true

It’s been so hard to get over you
But I’m trying to hang on the mundane to see me through

I’m learning to love loneliness
Each passing day I miss you less and less
Everybody says that time will heal every wound
But I’m not yet sure that it’s true
I’m a mess
But I’m learning to love loneliness

Curves

Written By: Joel Henderson

Abandonment then cigarettes
And other things to help you forget
‘Cause wishing wells and steeple bells don’t work
Caught in a cloud of criticism
You wake from a dream you’ve been living in
Only to find you smell of the vine you thirst

Don’t you know that you’re worth more
Than the sum of your
Oh the sum of your curves

Some have grown while you’ve grown old
Though others have been torn from the fold
It’s time to forgive time to let yourself go
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
Oh the sum of your curves

Some will put up a fight
And some may go devout
No one’s immune to flight
While working salvation out

Don’t you know that you’re worth more
Than the sum of your
Oh the sum of your curves

Baby I'm So Over You

Written By: Joel Henderson

I picked up the phone today like I’ve done before
I dialed your number a hundred times or more
I never let that call go through
‘Cause baby I’m so over

I wrote you a letter though I ain’t sure what for
I threw it in the trash then I wrote you a hundred more
I’ll probably trash all those too
‘Cause baby I’m so over

Please won’t you release me
You’ve got me oh so confused
One moment I want you madly
The next I’m so over, baby I’m so over you

Should you find me baby pacing back and forth
Know I’m going crazy now crazy’s at your door
I won’t knock yeah I’m no fool
‘Cause baby I’m so over, baby I’m so over

Please won’t you release me
You’ve got me oh so confused
One moment I want you madly
The next I’m so over, baby I’m so over you
Baby I’m so over, baby being over, baby I’m so over you

Stranger

Written By: Joel Henderson

I’m just a stranger in this place
A one in a million lonely face
What distinguishes me in this race
Is it being numbered or the things I embrace

Well it’s a strained life I lead
As I’m always in between
Running away and walking tall for you
It’s a narrow gate indeed
But still I believe
That I am just a stranger without you

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

Well it’s a strained life I lead
As I’m always in between
Running away and walking tall for you
It’s a narrow gate indeed
But still I believe
That I am just a stranger without you

Are We Running

Written By: Joel Henderson

The sun is rising the sky is clear
Been awfully gray and cloudy ‘round here
Dry your eyes and let it go
Here he comes with the deed in hand
Toss him the keys let him walk right in
Don’t look back leave the bags let’s go

C’mon baby can you blame me
There’s got to be something better
If we don’t feel the wind blow
Then how will we know
There’s nothing better around

Go on roll the window down
Let your long hair blow around
It don’t matter what people think
We’ve been living for way too long
To the rhythm of someone else’s song
It’s time for us to break free

C’mon baby can you blame me
There’s got to be something better
If we don’t feel the wind blow
Then how will we know
There’s nothing better around
So are we running now

Been so long since we left that place
And the limits of time and space
But we ain’t free just yet you know
There’s a stone that’s deep inside
Trying hard to beat alive
And it ain’t gonna break itself

C’mon baby can you blame me
There’s got to be something better
If we don’t feel the wind blow
Then how will we know
There’s nothing better around
So are we running now

One Kiss at a Time

Written By: Joel Henderson

I wasn’t ready to let someone in
Like a punch you came and I flinched
Scared and frightened when vulnerable are we
I’ve a hunch with some trust this fear leaves

It’s like a home that we miss
When we find a love like this
Ain’t it worth the risk for me and you
One kiss at a time is all we need to do

With baggage in hand and brokenness in our souls
A tender love we need that’s unconditional

It’s like a home that we miss
When we find a love like this
Ain’t it worth the risk for me and you
One kiss at a time is all we need to do

And the closer we get
With each step that we take
Is proof enough that our love is worth the risk
And it’s bigger than each mistake we make

It’s like a home that we miss
When we find a love like this
Ain’t it worth the risk for me and you
One kiss at a time is all we need to do

I'll Be Waiting

Written By: Joel Henderson

On a bed dressed in white
Under the moon’s phasing light
I’ll be waiting for you

In a room softly aglow
With the television low
I’ll be waiting for you

I’ll be waiting
‘Til the timing’s right
I’ll be waiting
For that kiss goodnight

Within the walls of a home
Where no one should feel alone
I’ll be waiting for you

I’ll be waiting
‘Til the timing’s right
I’ll be waiting
For that kiss goodnight

In the quiet place inside
Where the heart learns to hide
I’ll be waiting for you

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".

Set List

Henderson's typical set includes selections from all his releases. In addition, he performs unreleased material as well as fresh-sounding covers from influential artists.

When performing solo, Henderson prefers to perform no longer than an hour and a half.

Henderson rarely performs with band, but when he has the opportunity he can be seen with friends Ric Hordinski, Byron House, Heidi Gluck, Dan Dorff, Bill Mallers and others.