Jim Henry's JACKSONVILLE is nothing short of stunning. From Wall Street's board rooms to the rural landscapes of America's heartland, Jim Henry weaves stories of greed and indiscretion, fathers and sons, love of family, hearth and home. All of this in a rich, warm voice, sometimes bluesy, sometimes haunting, but most often comforting and familiar, and always compelling. This album features some of the finest guitar work to be heard on any acoustic recording in recent memory. Jim Henry emerges as a phenomenal singer/songwriter, drawing you in and keeping you close.
Producer Darleen Wilson provides a beautifully understated sound and feel that allows Jim Henry's craft to shine. Surrounding him are some of the finest musicians and vocalists in the folk/acoustic genre: Ellis Paul, Maria Sangiolo and Jennifer Kimball (formerly of The Story) on backing vocals; Alan Williams (former Knots and Crosses leader), on keyboards; Brooks Williams on acoustic slide guitar; and Duke Levine on electric guitar, among them.
From the opening chords of JACKSONVILLE's first cut, "It's Only Business," I was hooked. The song tells the tale of a businessman in the slick, dark world of money and greed. Featuring Henry's searing guitar, and the backing vocals of Ellis Paul and Jennifer Kimball, this number is a standout. "Baby's Coming Home," accompanied once again by Jennifer Kimball, expresses both the changes and joy a first child brings to the lives of a young couple. Henry's ease with the blues is evident in "Love in the Wrong Direction," a tale of illicit love. The love between father and son is at the center of "Pals Forever Dad," a lovely, touching song featuring Henry's soothing voice and acoustic guitar. "Louise" paints a portrait of a quiet life on the farmlands of the midwest. Jim Henry's songwriting craft shines in the way a Kansas childhood comes to life in "Till the Siren Blows Again." We can feel the heat in the superb blues of "Summer Blues," courtesy of Henry's nimble playing, and Brooks Williams on acoustic slide guitar. "The Broken Man" is a beautifully crafted song, both in its lyrical beauty, and in its haunting musical refrain. The warm meaning of home, and a sense of place which informs "Home to Me," brings the recording to a close.
JACKSONVILLE also features four instrumental pieces, which serve to demonstrate Jim Henry's versatility on guitar. His stylistic prowess ranges from traditional folk, to blues, to the more contemporary feel of new American acoustic music.
JACKSONVILLE is one of the very best recordings of the year. In this collection of stories and moods, Jim Henry explores the complicated emotions of everyday life, from the dark underside of lust and greed, to the joys of a new baby, and a fondly remembered rural childhood. His beautifully crafted songs are enhanced by his considerable skill on the acoustic guitar. Accompanied by many of the best talents in New England, Jim Hernry's JACKSONVILLE paints a uniquely American landscape. It is a vision and a sound not to be missed. With this recording, Jim Henry emerges as a major talent on the contemporary acoustic scene.