A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
Jim Henry is one of the great, largely unsung talents on the acoustic music scene today. Perhaps it's because he lives in the western Massachusetts enclave of musicians which includes the likes of Dar Williams, Cliff Eberhardt and the Nields. Or perhaps it's due to the fact that four years have passed since his debut recording, Jacksonville, was released. But he has not been idle during those years. He has toured extensively, often in the company of Maria Sangiolo. He has made an instrumental recording with Brooks Williams, and he has provided the Burns Sisters with extraordinary backing on guitar. Jim Henry is a man of many talents.
And so it is with a great deal of excitement and anticipation that we greet the release of Jim Henry's second recording on the Signature Sounds label, The Wayback. The recordings on the CD are all live and unedited. Richard Gates on bass and Doug Plavin on drums both appeared on Henry's first recording. The Burns Sisters, Annie and Jeannie, appear here providing stellar backing vocals. It all comes together with Jim Henry's warm, comfortable, smooth as butterscotch voice and outstanding musicianship on guitar.
No one celebrates old-fashioned love of family and the places of one's childhood like Jim Henry. The recording opens with Drive-In Movie Picture Show, which describes the simple pleasure of taking off with your family one summer night to enjoy the latest film offering at the neighborhood drive-in theater. Ruby (The Girl with the Flyaway Hair) is an instrumental tribute to Henry's small daughter. And We Think We'll Keep Him is a fun, joyous, upbeat tune which is really a love song to Henry's little boy.
Something about the timbre and inflections of Jim Henry's voice, and the nature of his melodies provide a country feel to much of his music. Leaving Time, with it's tortuous tale of love gone wrong, accompanied by some fine work on guitar, and Restless, with its upbeat melody and country-flavored guitar, are just two examples of Henry's ability to cross over into the country music genre. And, you can do a perfect two-step to Texas"
Jim Henry hails from the midwest. His love of this part of the country shows in one of the recording's best cuts, Sound of the Whistle Blow. It's all here: Henry's warm, smooth vocals, the beautiful melody played out on both acoustic and electric guitars, and the stunning harmonies of Annie and Jeannie Burns. This is a near perfect song.
The Wayback is Jim Henry's way back into recording and performing his own original music. With his warm, accessible baritone celebrating love of home and family, and his extraordinary skill on guitar, his presence on the music scene has been sorely missed. So, do find your way to Jim Henry and The Wayback. Jim Henry is back and that's a good thing, for sure.
| || |
Edited by Jonathan Colcord