Made in Europe
Wading into Caroline Henderson's Made In Europe, I immediately figured she was, what with her spooky, Patty Waters-esque spoken word intro to "Lush Life," out of her continental mind. My mistake. You don't wade into a Henderson album; you dive in headfirst, ready and willing to absorb the multitude of currents that shape her strange, exhilarating brew.
A Danish magician who outshines even Harry Potter in the spell-casting department, Henderson can morph from Phoebe Snow to Marlene Dietrich in the blink of an eye. On Bill Withers' "Use Me" she suggests the edge-of-madness frustration that chilled Jim Morrison's "Riders on the Storm." On "Since I Fell for You" she echoes the retro cabaret verve of Ute Lemper. Her "You're My Thrill" seeps like an icy wind through a haunted house. "Mother Earth" is gutsy, grimy, primal blues. But it is Henderson's five-minute inversion of James Brown's "It's a Man World," built around slam poet Staceyann Chin's graphic exorcism of female-subjugating demons, that truly hugs the border of insanity and thereby reflects genius. Enter at your own risk.