Joe Henry, "Blood From Stars" (Anti-)

Reviewing "Blood From Stars" is daunting because Joe Henry has already done so eloquently in a three-page essay included in the liner notes.

Henry's a marvelous writer of song, too, and "Blood" rivals his best work. It laments a world where "the stars have gone astray," "true revelation is a thug" and "reason is traded for rhyme."

Such sentiments are attached to music that mitigates the gloom, the way the blues can. Henry borrows from that genre, and jazz as well. A Grammy-winning producer, he throws in clangs, crashes, squeals and other spasms of odd noise.

The quirky rhythm of the record is crucial, too. Songs punch and jab and run together. Drums thunder. Henry breathes in the middle of vocal phrases. The result is exhilarating.

Helping Henry pull it altogether is an excellent supporting cast that includes guitarist Marc Ribot, drummer Jay Bellerose, jazz pianist Jason Moran and Henry's 17-year-old son, Levon, a precocious saxophonist who shines on the instrumental "Over Her Shoulder."

Henry's introductory essay shows he's of a generation that believes in the album as a form of artistic expression. It's a form he has mastered.

Check this out: The lovely "Light No Lamp" serves as bookends. Moran plays it as a solo instrumental prelude, and Henry sings it as a coda and hopeful benediction.