Joe Henry is one of those troubadour types--Steve Forbert, John Hiatt, and Bill Morrissey are others--who get great reviews and in some cases parlay those into major-label deals, but still somehow fail to connect with a paying audience. In the case of Henry, back on an indie after two nonselling A&M albums, you can to some extent see why: I mean it's 1992, and when I hear a mournful voice begin a song with the intoned line, "bring me the head of John the Baptist," well, I just hit the changer. But Henry's generally a lot better than that: the country flavorings on the new record--courtesy of his pals in the Jayhawks--adorn some interestingly complex twists on the usual folkie fare of lonely bartenders, mute lovers, and crazed men. He can be upbeat--the killer hook on "Good Fortune" would have improved either of Bruce Springsteen's recent albums--and occasionally, as on the defiant loser's statement "Short Man's Room," he pulls off an absurdist coup. Most of the Jayhawks will be backing him on this visit. Saturday, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport; 525-2508.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/David Perry.