Joel Henderson

Joel Henderson - Lived and started my music career as an adult in Muncie, Anderson, then finally Indy. I have been in Louisville, KY for 8 years. --- Band members on new album, Locked Doors & Pretty Fences: Byron House - Bass Scott Kellogg - Bass Heidi
If the best songwriting comes from life experience, then singer-songwriter Joel Henderson has a deep well to draw from. Frequent moves as a child in the city-suburbs of Atlanta and Chicago, to small Indiana college towns, to finally landing in Louisville, Kentucky, coming of age in America’s Heartland has had a profound influence on Henderson as a writer. He explains: “I was born in the south and raised in the north; but it took the last decade or so in the middle for me to find balance, emotionally and artistically. Literally centering myself has influenced my interpretation of experiences in a way that seems to resonate.” Henderson’s new album is a summation of his journey so far. Originally intended as an immediate follow-up to High Risk, a DIY EP he self-released, Locked Doors & Pretty Fences is essentially years in the making. Though he’s been writing steadily since then, the recording process took longer than he anticipated. “This album started as a homemade project I worked on between daily obligations – you know, the ‘you’re-not-a-kid-anymore’ type stuff.” As his recordings took shape, friend Jeff Grantham took notice. “Jeff and I really felt my project had some legs. So with his help we recruited producer Paul Mahern, and things took off from there.” On the overall theme of Locked Doors & Pretty Fences, Henderson describes: “It’s about the barriers along the path to maturity. Sometimes the obstacles are obvious, sometimes they’re not. If we’re really honest with ourselves, they’re usually self-created out of fear or complacency.” From the first verse of the opening track about relationships squandered, debts owed, and expectations unmet, to the record’s final track, a short song about a trepidatious peek at life beyond our self-made barriers, Henderson’s voice is at once an honest, sometimes raw, but ever hopeful examination of growing up. On Locked Doors & Pretty Fences, Henderson combines folk, country, blues, gospel, and classic pop with equal reverence. His careful song craft suggests a noble intent to update the American standard. For instance, he makes a current theme like losing a house in a tough economy accessible and timeless by turning his song’s focus to the thrill of new-found freedom. To support Henderson’s sophisticated craftsmanship, Mahern enlisted a mean studio line-up. The roster of talented players includes bassists Byron House (Robert Plant’s Band of Joy) and Scott Kellogg, guitarists Jason Wilber (John Prine), Ric Hordinski (Over the Rhine) and David England, drummers Devon Ashley (The Lemonheads) and Jake Burton, and what appears to be an army of harmonic vocalists performed by one Heidi Gluck (Some Girls). Additional performances by Bill Mallers on Hammond B3, Fender Rhodes and piano, as well as Mick Sullivan’s banjo work, add to the album’s rich instrumentation. Recorded at White Arc Studios in Bloomington, Indiana, Locked Doors & Pretty Fences captures shades of heartland heroes like John Mellencamp, Bruce Springsteen, and James McMurtry; but Henderson’s tunes are also right at home on a playlist of contemporaries like Ron Sexsmith, Amos Lee, and Ryan Adams. Though the journey may have been longer and more challenging than he expected, Henderson’s struggle paid off – Locked Doors & Pretty Fences is a gorgeously melodic and thoughtful endeavor. With this record, Joel Henderson takes aim at the metaphorical fences, walls, and doors that have held him back in the past, in hopes that maturity and self-awareness lead not only to self-realization, but also toward the prolific, successful music career he always intended.