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Beyond the Pale

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Barnes & Noble - David McGee
A New Yorker by way of his native Oklahoma, Bruce Henderson's heart is still out on the plains, where the horizon goes on forever, where life isn't as simple as it seems on the surface, and where the earth itself is ready to swallow up the weak. On his second solo album, Henderson details a lot of skullduggery going on in this deceptively placid ecosystem. "Nobody ever said life was easy/ Nobody ever said life wasn't tough/ Nobody ever said much at all/ In the place where I come from," he sings in "Flatlands," a song whose insistent marching rhythm, sprightly accordion solos, and fuzz-toned, trebly guitar solos evoke a jaunty Tejano feel that's at odds with the ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David McGee
A New Yorker by way of his native Oklahoma, Bruce Henderson's heart is still out on the plains, where the horizon goes on forever, where life isn't as simple as it seems on the surface, and where the earth itself is ready to swallow up the weak. On his second solo album, Henderson details a lot of skullduggery going on in this deceptively placid ecosystem. "Nobody ever said life was easy/ Nobody ever said life wasn't tough/ Nobody ever said much at all/ In the place where I come from," he sings in "Flatlands," a song whose insistent marching rhythm, sprightly accordion solos, and fuzz-toned, trebly guitar solos evoke a jaunty Tejano feel that's at odds with the desolation and isolation described in the lyrics. Henderson has a lot of Joe Ely in him, in his dry, husky voice -- which sounds exactly like it should for these sort of tales -- in his terse, muscular phrasing, in his unforgiving Southwestern mise-en-scene, and in his writer's eye that sees shadows where others see light. "I Wanted To," for example, is a litany of roads not taken and devils left unexorcised ("I never shot a man down in cold blood for taking what I had/ But I wanted to"). Similar gut-wrenching twists dot Henderson's mesmerizing songs, making BEYOND THE PALE a rich and memorable experience from first cut to last.
All Music Guide - Stanton Swihart
Beyond the Pale is the sort of album that musically seems to disappear into the atmosphere of the bar it might be playing at, but which actually defines and shapes that atmosphere. It demands close scrutiny, especially lyrical scrutiny. The bent is decidedly rootsy and country-rockish, but Henderson seems more influenced by Bob Dylan and, consequently, Woody Guthrie than his commercial country-pop brethren, which is not to say that he eschews pop altogether. Beyond the Pale is full of melodies with teeth that are much more distinctive than they first seem. Though sneaky, there are plenty of hooks on the album, but they are hooks that necessitate repeated listening before they begin to sink in. The playing is not at all plodding, but assured and easy. Twangy, reverbed, electric guitars are superimposed over finger-picked acoustic guitars. Accordian pops up on "Flatlands" and "Wash It Away," and there is occasional mandolin and banjo touches. The album would sit comfortably beside or at least nearby efforts by the Wallflowers and John Mellencamp. Henderson displays a lyrical and melodic acuity as well as a melancholy streak similar to Jakob Dylan check out the wonderful "Bone Tired", while his themes are pure country desolation and grief, filled with nowhere towns where nothing happens, drunken nights, and ill-fated relationships. "Speed Rack" features the sort of weezing organ you here on mid-'60s Dylan albums courtesy of Al Kooper, and includes the immortal couplet, "I've never loved another woman/but then again I don't love you," which goes a long way in setting the general mood of the album. The loneliness of the characters about which Henderson writes have empty spaces in their lives that have been there so long they have become permanent, holes that cannot be peopled no matter how hard they try to make human connections. Sadness is inevitable in this world. Henderson's warble, caught half-way between Dylan and Mark Knopfler, adds a world-weary quality to the music that is real and sincere. Yet, as bleak as it may seems and as powerfully as those themes resonate, there is also a sense on Beyond the Pale that Henderson is turning country cliches on their head, making playful jest of "my-woman-left-me-and-my-dog-died" stereotypes. The music is not overtly gloomy, though it is certainly moody. Yet it is a moodiness that lets listeners in, if not to make them share that feeling than at least to help them understand it.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 6/20/2000
  • Label: Valley
  • UPC: 618321509128
  • Catalog Number: 15091

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 August (2:57)
  2. 2 Speed Rack (4:06)
  3. 3 Bone Tired (3:47)
  4. 4 I Wanted To (5:09)
  5. 5 I Never Lost An Arm (5:45)
  6. 6 Look at You Now (4:01)
  7. 7 Flatlands (3:51)
  8. 8 Wash It All Away (2:54)
  9. 9 Running Out Of Light (4:34)
  10. 10 Mexico (3:34)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Bruce Henderson Primary Artist, Primary Artist, Guitar, Harmonica, Vocals
Curtis Stigers Background Vocals
Charlie Giordano Organ, Accordion, Harmonium
Steve Holley Percussion, Drums
Christine Ohlman Background Vocals
Paul Ossola Bass, Upright Bass
Tony Shanahan Background Vocals
Kerryn Tolhurst Acoustic Guitar, Banjo, Mandolin, Electric Guitar, Steel Guitar, tiple, Lap Steel Guitar, Fuzz Bass
Soozie Tyrell Fiddle
Andy York Electric Guitar
Tommy Allen Percussion, finger cymbals
Danny Malone Background Vocals
Technical Credits
Albert Caiati Engineer
Greg Calbi Mastering
John DeNicola Producer
Steve Holley Programming, Contributor
Peter Keppler Engineer
Paul Ossola Contributor
Bill Thomas Executive Producer
Kerryn Tolhurst Producer
Andy York Contributor
Francesca Restrepo Artwork
Bruce Henderson Executive Producer
Bill Thomas Executive Producer
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A fine singer songwriter

    A fine singer songwriter makes his second CD, reflecting his Oklahoma/Texas background. If you like Lucinda Williams, John Hiatt, Shawn Colvin, or Mary Chapin Carpenter, or have enjoyed Steve Earle or Dwight Yoakam in concert, you will enjoy Bruce Henderson and his fine band.

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