If 2014's Around These Parts were sketches of characters whose lives were slowly and tragically spiraling out of control, the title track of Jo Henley's latest record, Burning Down the Dark, is the sound of having hit rock bottom. Familiar flourishes of banjo and '70s-era keyboards over a chugging groove quickly melts into a long fade-out of guitar feedback, digital blips, and swirling, atonal noise.
At first listen, track two, "Ghosts Between My Bones," seems to rise from the ashes of that noise in a sunny major key, but the lyrics contradict any notion of clear skies ahead. Over the course of a 9-song cycle, Jo Henley co-founders and longtime musical collaborators Andy Campolieto and Ben Lee explore dark themes of depression, loneliness, and hopelessness--and then, ultimately, the resolve to find light within one's self by exorcising that darkness.
The soulful warmth of analog permeates the record; Campolieto and Lee worked closely with producer Tim Lynch to use vintage mics, amps, and reel-to-reel whenever possible to create a timeless sonic experience. On the heels of the tenth anniversary of their debut EP, Burning Down the Dark is Jo Henley at their loudest and most aggressive, yet at the same time their quietest and most intimate--an important new album by two veterans of the roots-rock scene at the peak of their powers.
Produced by Tim Lynch and Jo Henley
All words and music by Andy Campolieto, except "Running Around": music by Andy Campolieto, Ben Lee, and Tim Lynch. All arrangements by Andy Campolieto and Ben Lee
Recorded and engineered by Tim Lynch at The Recording Company, Esperance, NY.
Andy Campolieto: vocals, guitar, harmonica, percussion, drums on track 7
Ben Lee: lead guitar, banjo, dobro, lap steel, percussion
Tony Markellis: bass
Tim Lynch: keyboards, percussion, drums and bass on track 9
Jordan Santiago: mandolin on track 6
Mike Dingley: drums on tracks 1, 2, 6, 8
Bob Boyer: drums on track 4, saxophone on tracks 7 and 8
Anthony Campolieto: cowbell on track 2