Friday, April 30, 2010

The John Henrys — White Linen
The John Henrys first came to my attention a few years back when I saw the Ottawa band open for The Sadies at Toronto's Horseshoe Tavern, and I was immediately impressed. 
I've seen the talented quintet a couple of more times since, and enjoyed its Sweet As The Grain sophomore album.
This third LP, which came out in Canada last month via Linus Entertainment and will be released in the U.S. on Aug. 31, draws from the same Americana, rock and influences as its predecessor. The band had a larger budget and recorded 17 songs over seven months before winnowing the final product down to 11, which is divided into two sides like a vinyl LP. The first five songs are supposed to be the city side, while the country is represented by the final six tracks.
"Little One" opens the album and probably sounds more like Tom Petty than anything on the last Heartbreakers record — voice, guitars, organ ... everything. And there's nothing wrong with that, coming from a Petty fan.
"Hit The Floor" and "Empty Pockets" are pretty straight-ahead, mid-tempo rock tunes. There's some extra jangle to the guitars on "Peace Of Mind," and lots of pedal steel on "Good Man," but "Stars Align" may be the most country-leaning song on the album. Organ is most prominent on the title track and White Linen ends with the acoustic "Patriot Song," about the 1838 Upper Canada rebellions.
The John Henrys are in the midst of a Canadian tour with labelmates Madison Violet and, in the past, have accompanied the similarly minded Sadies, Elliott Brood and Cuff The Duke. I have a strong hunch that the songs on White Linen will draw me in more when I hear them performed on stage, so I'll be on the lookout for future Toronto shows. For now, I'll give White Linen a 6/10.
Listen for yourself here.

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