Spin - 5/99, p.1528 (out of 10)
- "...Next to Henry's enchantingly elusive new album, FUSE, his breakthrough TRAMPOLINE seems like a baby step. The songs still have gorgeous bone structure, but by sacrificing their meticulousness, Henry achieves a more enigmatic beauty..."
Entertainment Weekly - 3/19/99, p.106
"...Dark, brooding, and beautiful--with disarmingly offbeat lyrics about obsessive desire, angels of death, and a pet monkey--FUSE deepens with each spin but is so moodily low-key that depressives are forewarned to stock up on St. John's Wort."
- Rating: B+
CMJ - 3/8/99, p.24
"...a jazzy, groove-oriented vibe...Henry seems to depend less on melody here, instead focusing on his lyrics and the scratchy passion in his voice, which coalesces with pulsing bass lines, searing guitar effects and strings to form stark, beautiful pictures."
Dirty Linen - 6-7/99, p.61
"...a beautifully constructed and lovely record....Lyrically, it is complex, demanding and perhaps demented..."
Mojo (Publisher) - 10/99, p.101
"...On FUSE the vibe is more urban - a mellow, jazzy sort of urban....Every track...is superbly crafted, powerfully melodic and incisive..."
FUSE is an Enhanced audio CD containing regular audio tracks and multimedia computer files, including interviews, lyrics and biographical information.
Personnel includes: Joe Henry (vocals, guitar, organ, keyboards, bass, percussion); Jakob Dylan (vocals); Randy Jacobs (guitar); Chris Whitley (guitar); Jamie Muhoberac (piano, organ, keyboards); Rami Jaffee (electric piano, vibraphone); Daniel Lanois (bass, clave); Jennifer Condos, Ready Freddie Washington, Greg Richling (bass); Carla Azar, Curt Bisquera (drums).
Joe Henry's always been artistically restless, moving from the big production/poetic meandering of MURDER OF CROWS to the winning Jayhawks-backed country-rock of SHORT MAN'S ROOM and the more free-form, experimental TRAMPOLINE. It's admirable that Henry desired to move on from the roots-rock form he'd so thoroughly mastered, and TRAMPOLINE found him trying out new creative methods without landing on anything definitive. Its followup FUSE is where all that searching pays off. The album mixes hip-hop-inflected rhythms, R&B touches and a loose, Mitchell Froom-ish flair for gonzo studio tricks. Henry marries his ambitious arrangement ideas with some poetic but focused lyrics, making for one of the most literally "progressive" late-'90s singer-songwriter efforts you're likely to hear this side of Ron Sexsmith or the criminally underexposed Richard Julian.