There’s a striking polarity between Poor Nameless Boy and their record title Bravery. The band name conjuring someone helpless or inferior, the album title referencing a strength that knows no bounds. Thankfully Joel Henderson, the Poor Nameless Boy, is not the helpless creature his band name evokes but rather is marked by the pluckiness of his album title.
Throughout Bravery, Henderson approaches his rich songs with a steady voice and pairs it with a calm, well crafted folk/country style. Though it’s uncovered in the opening track that the titular bravery is actually hidden “in boxes behind the water heater,” Henderson goes on to be unperturbed by the “Atlantic Ocean,” is the captain of his destiny in the swinging “Dream Boat,” and faces dragons and sorcerers in “Fairy Tale.” Even in the aforementioned title track, which is a gorgeous folk offering, Henderson shows great strength when battling his ghosts (recreated in the light percussion brushes, violin, and soft voice of Tenille Arts) to move on from a broken relationship.
Additional album highlights “River & Trees” and “I’m Not Going Anywhere” showcase the two sides of Poor Nameless Boy. The former is a radio ready, alt-country jam whose lyrical eagerness for clarity is matched by the song’s rousing beat, the latter is a tender and determined display of love. In “I’m Not Going Anywhere,” a violin dances amongst Henderson’s guitar chords, mimicking the flutters of his heart, building to the song’s vital message on love: “When they ask how we made it, I’ll say we took turns being our salvation.”
Bravery is a gentle but determined album that ultimately shows that it would be wise to remember Poor Nameless Boy.
Top Track: “River & Trees”; “I’m Not Going Anywhere”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)