Jack Henderson: Where’s The Revolution

If the injustices of the world leave you feeling helpless because there’s so much wrong and so little you can do, we can offer a small action you can take – buy Jack Henderson’s new album.
Henderson sounds as if he’s a jobbing musician who does well – his biography says he’s played with the likes of Buddy Miller, Sarah McLachlan and Ron Sexsmith, and more recently Patti Smith at Kelvingrove Park in his home city, Glasgow.
The production and recording are all top notch, despite it being self-recorded; all that playing with world class musicians has paid off. It has a depth you’d not expect with this type of DIY album, when the sound can sometimes be a bit thin.
The songs are all good, too, cleverly arranged and with some fine playing; his biog calls him a “multi-instrumentalist” so maybe he does most himself; we’d guess he paid a drummer as the drums sound like a pro.
Musically it’s somewhere between melodic folk / indie and Americana, with Henderson’s vocals smoothing it all over. It’s hard to box in, with comparisons possible to anyone from Marc Cohn to Elvis Costello via his fellow Scot, Martin John Henry (whose 2011 The Other Half of Everything is one of the best albums we’ve reviewed in 20 years) or even David Bowie.
Oddly enough, the sound of “man making music on his own in a shed” is most evident in the opener: Jesus And Jezebel opens well, sounding like it’s a mid-set song and you already like him, then verges on pedestrian, albeit being nicely constructed with a good melody. Difficult Girl follows and Henderson ups his game, with a pleasingly melodic sound effect (could be guitar) before offering a taster for the chorus before getting to the pleasingly downbeat verse, the upending of expectations working well. (Maybe that’s why the more predictable Jesus and Jezebel is first).
The title track follows and it’s a bigger, more ambitious tune, the man-in-shed sound now gone. It’s a rich and deep tune with some nice keyboard/organ.
After that it pretty much gets better. The slow and bluesier Hey Batman is the first great song and sees the narrator meet the caped crusader having an existential crisis, “Hey Batman … Looks like your type of crime is going out of style … Nothing’s going down, just some big-masked kid thinking he’s profound.” The album closes with three corkers: the slower Like We Never Do, then album standout Don’t Drink The Water, a nice song anyway but with added lovely, lazy guitar solo, half way between melody and feedback. The piano-led It’s Only Rain ends in thoughtful style. Highly recommended.

About jerobear

Weekly newspaper editor in Cheshire, England. I blog my editorials and the CDs I write about. I play drums, drink coffee, play music, meditate. I hate filling in forms.

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