1. Climb
  2. Believer
  3. Dark Is Light Enough
  4. Blood Of The Forgotten Song
  5. World Of This Room
  6. The Glorious Dead
  7. Hungry
  8. Quicksilver
  9. River Floor
  10. Now And Never
  11. Keep Us In Song


Release Date: October __, 2014 (U.S.) • Recording Date: February 21-22, March 29-30, 2017

Produced by Joe Henry

Recorded and mixed ‘live’ to stereo tape by Ryan Freeland at United Recording, Studio B; Hollywood, CA

Recording assistance provided by Monique Evelyn
Mastered by Kim Rosen at Knack Mastering, Ringwood, NJ

Joe Henry – vocals and acoustic guitar
Jay Bellerose – drums and percussion
Levon Henry – all reeds, raw and cooked: alto and tenor saxophone; B- flat, alto, and bass clarinet; whistling
David Piltch – upright and electric bass
John Smith – acoustic and electric guitar; backing vocals
Patrick Warren – piano, Hammond organ, Wurlitzer electric piano, Chamberlin; String arrangement for “Keep Us In Song”

The Section Quartet
Eric Gorfain – first violin Daphne Chin – second violin Leah Katz – viola
Richard Dodd – cello

Asa Brosius – pedal steel

Joey Ryan – backing vocals

Cover photography by Michael Wilson: “Marilyn’s Hands;” “Tendril” (2016) Portrait of JH by Glen Hansard; Co. Kildare, Ireland (May, 2017)
Design by Anabel Sinn




Here lies Billy the Kid, here lies his gun— here lies The Light of the World,
as quick as the dead,
as gone as the sun;

raised like a tent now
where heads bow, are bent down to a gypsy moth roosting home— a heart to be consumed
by hunger alone

Here lies the way I knew how to harbor my mind— there rolls a ship of the sea,
steady as she goes,
determined to climb:

to fly like a kite above
the near and the near enough,
tugging your arms through their sleeves— a heart needing only to feel
what hunger believes

What I loved loved me back, let me go— met my stare, heard me out,
sang to me
what I couldn’t know;

here lies the best of us,
and here stand the rest of us: dying, trying not to let on—
a heart surrendering everything hunger has won

Here lies Billy the Kid, here lies his gun— here lies The Light of the World,
as quick as the dead,
As gone as the sun

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Way down in a low place
yawning into field,
skirting now the river pushing water, further falling; lower still.
Oh, my word,
oh, my captain,
oh, my ghost stepped into view— my disappeared redeemer’s
lost believer seen in you

Steering wide of shelter,
flung afield and out afar,
under eyes that play and shine and give away just what savages we are.
Oh, my stars,
oh, my dear lonesome,
oh, the least that I can do—
my rearranging stranger’s
finest danger seen in you

Thrown out for the starlings,
in air and at your feet,
commanded by a weather to be gathered, one calls ‘forward,’ then ‘retreat.’
Oh, my witness,
my revolution,
marching headlong into blue—
my creature now forgiven,
my reliving seen in you

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(After Baldwin and Fry)

I came up once and hollered,
I went down and cried—
I stood at the window
like what I feared might be outside. My cage, it has betrayed me holding neither time nor love,

but letting in a dark I know must still be light enough

The Golden Gate was swaying, whichever side we stood—
from hymns we’d long forgotten, and some we wish we could. Their stories find us wading through all we’ve given up,

and trading on the dark that now must still be light enough

I know fact from fiction, know they are the same— two sides of believing
in the singing of God’s name; that knows itself in hunger: the never-ending fight—

the kiss that lives between us where the dark keeps all the light

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We talked the sun down
from off its high ledge,
and it left us alone in the dark—
feeling our way
by the thread of our veins
that speak of our quickening hearts.
The days fall and break like promises made
by those that claim never to change,
but lives are made whole from the ones come undone at our feet that we rearrange

By morning there will be smoke in this room and shouts in the street before long—
our future writ out on the walls of the past in the blood of the forgotten song

Delores stands tall
at her father’s arm,
his hand disappeared at her side—
their faces opposed
like jacks on a card,
in a picture when she was a bride;
and love but a ghost rode up from the shore where dreams run away with the sea,
and leave us to fade in the heat of a shade moving slowly as your eyes to me

Oh how can you tell me
what you’ve come to know,
oh how will I ever shake free—
of what I’ve assumed
from the shape of these rooms
about all that we ever might be?
There’s nothing divine in the marking of time for it slips every frame we intend––
a river above us, it laughs at and loves us, confusing our beginnings and ends

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In the world of this room kingdoms arise
from the shadow of doubt by the light of your eyes. We topple and fall

like the head of a groom at the end of his reign
in the world of this room

The seasons unfold
their maps in the sand, but all fortune’s told
in your opening hand. There’s storm at the door as cold as the tomb,
but stars in the dark
of the world of this room

the railroading sun
is rolling in debt— sending his best,
his regards and regrets; the desert relenting

a feverish bloom:
the weather of love
in the world of this room

oh, the way that I love you nobody knows—
it’s sewn in the silk
that’s lining my clothes; like terms of surrender, your keys and my spoon— and all of the hope

in the world of this room

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The bells at St. Martin’s heave and moan, rolling like an army down the hill— horses guard the gates like sweating stone where the glorious dead just can’t keep still

She hikes her gown then moves, now everything is news:
returning time, refusing all I know— but lifts my eyes

Standing by the strong arm of the sea
desire waving out from ship to shore—
the fallen day has made quick work of me, the rising moon still asking something more

The queen rides by, a great hat on her head, she waves as if she wants to draw me near— flowers fly like flags above the dead,
and fill the sky like every rising cheer

Well, once I laid my finger to your lips like they were a Bible writ in Braille— and might be moved to let a secret slip, might be open to the twisting of the tale

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The bride throws off her veil onto the groom, “salvation” meaning nothing but “consumed”— Facing death of glory on this storied, winding climb... nothing falls from favor
in the promise of your time

Oh, come let us be hungry in the world, together we’ll be hungry

And let us now and finally begin
to give away the tale before the end—
your mare shakes out her head and clocks the cold and turning stone... I’m knocking at your window
with a turning of my own

Just ahead of marching in the street
darkness falls with clothes around our feet—
I don’t know what I have to add to common prayer and law... when stars slip from their place and trail
and still out-live us all

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What more shall I hope for,
where else might we climb,
now that I’ve made your bed like promise, worn your heart as mine?
Your love is falling silver
savaged from this earth,
forsaking what is lawful
just to know what law is worth

The lion of our history
paces in his cage,
dazed by drugs and boredom
and the coolness of his rage;
and like a child I’m brought within the inches of his door,

to nuzzle at the danger love’s known as living for

We’ve made a ghost of hours surrendered every war,
until even God must laugh and nod At just how free we are;
but the saints grow tired waiting out the tidings of our sea,
As we spill all of our will
between us, you and me

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The river crawls right to my door
with love on its mind and blood on its floor. It follows me to where I ran
and lays me down right where I stand.
It lays me down right where I stand, follows me from where I ran;
with love on its mind and blood on its floor, the river crawls right to my door

I ride the bus with prison wives
whose hearts are caged by the wage of their lives. they call to the children they have made
-a gift of their youth, offered in trade.
A gift of their youth offered in trade,
they call to the children they have made;
whose hearts are caged by the wage of their lives, oh, I ride the bus with prison wives

I’ve been proud, I stand accused,
and shame is the same, the names just confused by the view of the roof from above and below --the need to climb up, or one to let go.
There’s a need to climb up and one to let go when the view of the roof is from above or below; and shame is the same, the names just confused when I’ve been proud and I stand accused.

what in this world’s come over you?
--a light I can’t hold a candle to.
It moves in darkness and through time, changes both and changes my mind. What changes both and changes my mind moves in darkness and through time––
a light I can’t hold a candle to,
in this world comes over you

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Roses, take your cover—
wild beauty travels south;
truth will out but always speaks
from both sides of her mouth.
She’s a stone in water,
she’s a rising bell—
the invention of another,
I make no assumptions what she’ll tell.

For now, the word is moving through, sliding in beside of you;
you disappear –the both, you do:
one into the other

The jailer’s singing down the halls his lonesome song of love; tapping like a miner with his keys on pipes above.

A lantern revolution,
we’re bright without a line— but I make no assumptions now just what my light will find

For now, the dark is moving through, sliding in beside of you;
you disappear –the both, you do:
one into the other

The dead will close their bottle eyes of their own stubborn accord, escaping by the roof the darkest pleasures of the lord.

I pay my debt to mercy
with all of it come my way— I make no assumptions now what more I’m due today

For now, time is moving through, sliding in beside of you;
you disappear –the both, you do: one into the other

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The times as they change are here to remind
that nothing has changed -not even time;

I’ve loved you forever, it hasn’t been long— just enough now
to keep me in song

We howl from the window hungry with need
and pity the hearts
where we’ve all come to feed; a bitter last supper,

the cup passed along–– one for the road
that keeps us in song

I’ve stood at the water
where this land has run out
of any idea
what we might be about.
We’re asked to make do
with what we know to be wrong— what leads us astray
but keeps us in song...

The churches, the nurses, the company store,
have joined and concluded there will be no more— no credit on mercy,

no forgiveness here on, for any not willing
to keep us in song

It’s grey and it’s colder
than it was yesterday
when hope was eternal,
-a blooming array;
with one more good rain all these leaves will be gone, their falling designed

to keep us in song...

Last night I lay thinking I’d dropped the last thread that stitched every dream to the top of my head; they’ll all fly and leave me but I’ll get along––
with yours here beside me to keep me us song

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(For Amiri Baraka)

I carry the Book Of Changes into the courthouse,

place it on the conveyor
and it slips through-- its vivid claims upon us, its erotic animations undetected

like Bird, whose wired revolution rode the free wave of
familiar song. Your face
is your dead mother’s

and grows on you. My boy
has the hands of his uncles, the eyes of both grandfathers, offering color in witness to every atrocity

and traffic signal, every photo-finish and lonesome floor girl who
saucers her coffee afternoons
at the drugstore counter.

Violence is our habit
but we may refuse its inheritance.
The blues is not the message but our very language by which all praise is parsed and swallowed.

We are lit within.



When the songs that make up Thrum began to arrive, pair off and multiply ––when I could hear within them a common vocabulary of shared intention–– I began to imagine not only the cast of musicians that might best articulate them, but as well a recording method which might bid welcome the unknowable and mercurial in each, and conjure them wholly, sparking into the room. And as I did, I went to my friend and longtime engineer, Ryan Freeland, with a proposition concerning how I might make an album that could allow for bold manipulations without forsaking the alligiences inherent to our spontaneous, performance-based ethos....

I pitched Ryan the notion that I would assemble a room of trusted brothers (one of them also a son); and as we offered up takes of each song, he would respond to their cumulative weather pushing through the control room speakers --not as a dispassionate stenographer documenting all for posterity, but as one making tonal movies on-the-fly: contorting, mixing, and printing the results to 1/2" stereo analog tape in real time as we played. 

This scheme would, of course, prove feasible and advantageous for me only if Ryan and the other musicians found the invitation inspiring and not a hindrance to their collective creativity, upon which I have grown to so rely; and fortunately for me, they did to a man, and to them each I am grateful. As such:

We convened twice, for two days each gathering, at United Recording in Hollywood (its studio B being my favorite recording space in all of Los Angeles, its crew the kindest); and with each song emerging in rotation, we played to hear in collaboration its fundamental impulse; and as the song took shape, Ryan made decisions about how to frame it all as a visceral and singular listening experience. Ryan was, thus, a band member –essentially playing all of us as we played each song.

I had described to Ry and the fellas something of what I imagined, sonically ––referencing, for example, a particular Ray Charles album recorded live at the Olympia Civic Theatre in Los Angeles in 1964, wherein his voice throughout threatens the authority of the audio equipment employed to limit its dynamic volatility. When he sings low, the sound relaxes open like a dilated pupil, saturating with intimacy and color; and when Ray becomes fierce and pounces, it flares like a bulb being fed a wild surge of unmetered electricity, distorting like a fine line of ink being pulled into fuzzy bloom by thick and fibrous paper; and in truth, I wanted every sound to argue containment and speak like a living soul breaking out of a flat, still photograph and into vivid animation; wanted everything with its holy fractures in view.

I instinctively felt and still do feel that these songs could flourish no other way than being thrown headlong into the proverbial sea that would both toss them high and then pull them under into depths from whence none would emerge without 'the bends' that would leave them disoriented and walking oddly though steadfastly forward. The songs, after all, each initially surfaced to tease my reach like shadows in a fever dream: all of them naked and asking after succor –all of them reconciling not only light in darkness, but the light within darkness; of it: yielding what light itself shall never; all of them wanting not only for love, but to be fairly seen without judgment ––as every prodigal son and daughter longs to be.

And I embrace them here and all; am liberated, and accept that though of my own invention, these songs nonetheless will survive as they do, and well outside of my control, wild imaginings, and inevitable misgivings. So may it ever be.

They will, alas, break my heart, somehow; and in so doing, make me whole, I want to believe. Like the endless party in the apartment upstairs, they are noisy and unnerving to me even now; and by morning will leave empty bottles and un-mated shoes in their wake. 

And in this way I shall follow them on.



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