The Barber of Seville

Like a birthday, the release date of a new album can send a thrum of anticipation through its alchemist’s bones, as if a great mission bell had been struck and then lowered into water; its waves moving from the balls of your feet up to your molars, passing ‘go,’ and collecting two-hundred dollars. Foolish as it may seem, you can feel like a shy kid with a new haircut: sure that every stranger, from baker to bank teller, can see something is suddenly and conspicuously different about you.

It’s a fleeting sensation to be sure, but real and nonetheless worthy of regard, given the hundreds of hours spent in isolation that even the most modest public airing stands to validate: for a brief moment you are invited from minimum-security confinement out into the open yard with the general population –to take some air, squint at the sun, and shoot a few hoops that someone may even notice and encourage.

Today is just such a day for me, as Invisible Hour –my thirteenth record as a solo artist— hits the streets and strikes out on its own like Hazel Motes with a new suit and wide hat, looking for both trouble and redemption.

And though far away from home (I write this from Seville, in the south of Spain, on the campaign trail), I share this day with my beloved family and dearest friends who helped turn a satchel full of blueprints into an actual (if jerry-rigged) flying machine. They know who they are, and know too that they have my abiding love and gratitude.

I have a few hours until show time and thus will walk this ancient, scrubby and beautiful city in search of my next coffee, bashfully nodding to any stranger who might give my barber-fresh shorn-and-powdered countenance a quick double take.

Tomorrow, after all, it will be someone else’s birthday; and if I don’t eat some cake it will only go to the bad –which would be a shame, really, after we’ve fussed over it.

Joe Henry

3 June, 2014