Billy Bragg and Joe Henry
Shine A Light : Field Recordings From The Great American Railroad (2016)
Shine A Light isn’t perfect, and that’s by design. Billy Bragg and Joe Henry counted on intrusions while recording a dozen classic railroad songs semi-impromptu in public at train stations. The background noises (heard best on headphones) simply add to the earthy, homespun charm.
Travel became more efficient when air supplanted rail, but also more impersonal, so Bragg and Henry traveled like regular folk on a 2,700-mile train journey across America to reground themselves (in every sense).
It’s no stretch to imagine them as a pair of pretty good buskers, especially with Henry’s slightly off-kilter harmonizing (In The Pines, Midnight Special, L&N). Bragg harmonizes ‘better’ (Gentle On My Mind, Early Morning Rain, Hobo’s Lullaby), but this would never be mistaken for a studio album. Or anything but a heartfelt labour of love.
Shine A Light is a unique project executed to perfection. Cheesy to say, but ALL ABOARD!