CD REVIEW: Henway - 'unreel'
By Steve Allat - 08/15/2004 - 10:39 PM EDT
For Fans Of: Dave Matthews, Live (early), R.E.M., Fleetwood Mac, Blue Rodeo
Fav Track: The Answer, Pushed, Lean On My Love, Tuna Baby.
From the opening track, 'No Control', the five-some who comprise Ontario band Henway, are . . . in control. Very much.
This is very thoughtful music, a great lush sound set against interesting vocal stylings, courtesy 3 of the band's members - Ryan Smith (7 tracks), Scott Robbins (5), & Sean Coleman (1). Think Ed from Live meets Gord Downie from the Hip throughout. As well as sharing leads, having multiple lead vocalists lends itself to a fuller sound with nice backing vocals.
The songs are very well crafted and melody-driven, making for an easy listen. Nothing obtrusive or out of context from one song to the next, despite a slight change of pace from softer to harder edged tracks a couple times. The music almost sounds lazy, like some of Blue Rodeo's tunes, but really they're just well-crafted and mellow.
I especially liked 'The Answer', which could easily be a single. That'll be hummed for a while.
'Pushed' also stood out, with excellent music and a strong vocal melody.
With a sound comparable throughout to Live's debut CD, Mental Jewelry, this CD is quite a strong debut in that Henway have established a sound for themselves to work with. It's a relaxed mix of songs.
The recording is very well done, not taking away from the listening experience at all. The playing is also very well performed, with all parts serving the song, a good sign with melody-driven songs. We obviously have 5 sensitive artists here as opposed to 5 musician's trying to work together as a whole. It works, because it just sounds like Henway in the end.
Henway may be a few hooks away from blatant commercial success, but I don't think that they should stop what they're doing at all. I expect that if they continue down the path they've started down, that someone will tune in to what they're playing. I already have.
This one goes into my listening rotation.
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