Civilians

  • Record Label: Anti
  • Release Date: Sep 11, 2007
Metascore
77

Generally favorable reviews - based on 14 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 14
  2. Negative: 0 out of 14
  1. Civilians matches Henry's rough croon with a rich, warm sound that instantly draws you into its sonic world. You won't want to leave.
  2. Civilians has as many stories attached as any record Henry's written, but they're so finely crafted now that the singer almost disappears in their flickering appearances on the wall of the mind of the listener.
  3. Even in its rare maudlin and melodramatic moments, the album is saved its many precise, stainless sounds: Henry's compassionate, reverb-shaken voice, Bill Frisell's excellent fretwork, a bewitched pump organ, a snare hit that always echoes a bit too long.
  4. His first recording of his own material in four years reminds that he has few peers among contemporary singer-songwriters.
  5. Henry's superb Civilians succeeds not only as a melodic collection of poignant short stories, but also as a potent picture book of America gone wrong.
  6. While not a party record, not an album to bring to an Indian summer barbeque, this album remains powerful and exquisite.
  7. Q Magazine
    80
    Civilians is the most approachable and coherent of his recent offerings. [Oct 2007, p.98]
  8. 80
    Over the course of 10 albums, Joe Henry’s music has grown increasingly rich, complex and difficult.
  9. The 12 songs are rhythmically warm and appealing thanks to Jay Bellirose’s spare-cymballed drumming and the beautifully knotty guitars of Henry, Bill Frisell, and Greg Leisz.
  10. Spin
    60
    While his unapologetically Dylan-esque vocals grate on weaker tunes, gems like the softly rollicking 'Time is a Lion' allow Henry to step out with a quiet roar. [Oct 2007, p.104]
  11. Uncut
    60
    It's commendable stuff, but you can't help wishing he'd kept the scattershot, carte blanche approach of before. [Nov 2007, p.121]
  12. The sound is as warm and rich as could be expected from a craftsman of this caliber--David Piltch's upright bass tone alone should be bottled and sold to the highest bidder--but musically and melodically Civilians falls short of making much of a connection itself.
  13. So many of his songs sound damnably similar, blanded-out by his pinched rasp and seeming disinterest in melody.
  14. Henry, fresh from co-producing the Knocked Up soundtrack, doesn't have an exceptional voice. It's croaky, with little range, and the piano- and acoustic-based music on Civilians (out Sept 11) is kept unobtrusive, serving his writerly lyrics well.

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