Henry Butler: Homeland (2004)
In a New Orleans revival, Henry Butler boogies and shuffles down the street with happy times in tow. His traditional quartet interprets blues, ballads, and boogie-woogie on Homeland the way they’re supposed to be.
His searing title track takes a detour from the kind of theme that the singer/pianist employs elsewhere. For this poignant piece, he delivers the blues in a forceful, driving manner with contemporary fury. Butler and the band sing of the need for protecting our homeland. His patriotic message, a serious one, includes mention of the sacrifices that we’ve had to make since 9/11, and of those missions yet to be carried out. By weaving Vasti Jackson’s fiery electric guitar solo into this adventurous piece, the band has taken its own stand against the enemy. Their masterpiece is one that you just want to play again and again and again.
Butler’s personable voice comes from neighborhood roots. There are no false airs. He’s genuine in his desire to show everyone a good time. For over a hundred years, New Orleans has been showing its tourists a good time through jazz and blues. Butler uses his arsenal of jump blues, moanin’ blues, rhythm & blues, and Delta blues to enchant his audience. Voodoo children take note: his music is contagious. It’ll swallow up your troubles completely. You’ll forget where you’re at.
A Bo Diddley beat leads the band through its paces on “Some Iko,” with Butler’s piano decorating an at-once familiar vocal theme. No one can say that he’s never been touched by this celebrated rhythm: soldiers double-time to it, students party to it, elders dance to it, and youngsters learn from it. It’s built into our heritage.
”The Way We Loved” and “I Stand Accused” serve an inner, gentler spirit. Deeply sensual, Butler sings about what we feel from close and lasting relationships.
”Ode to Fess” finds Butler doing what he does best: singing and playing the piano in an older, traditional style that’s garnished by gospel, blues, and a big heart. Homeland takes us from the roots of jazz and blues to the future of this music, through Butler’s genuine love and respect for the art.
Personnel: Henry Butler- B3 organ, piano, keyboards, synths, vocals; Vasti Jackson- guitar, background vocals; Nick Daniels III- bass, background vocals; Raymond Weber- drums, background vocals.