(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Friday, May 6, 2011

CD review - The Henry Clay People, This Is a Desert (2011)

Following up on last year's Somewhere On The Golden Coast, the Henry Clay People are dropping a new EP, This is a Desert. Spawned from a new recording session, it's a high energy, hard rocking extension of Somewhere. It also shows some signs of the band's maturation into new sounds.

Joey Siara and company have infused the five tracks on the EP with a tight live performance feel. From the first track, The Honey Love He Sells, they take off at full speed. The tune strikes their signature balance of punk energy and retro glam rock polish. It kickstarts This Is A Desert much like Nobody Taught Us To Quit set the tempo for Somewhere On The Golden Coast.

California Wildfire - Download and listen

California Wildfire features a nice twinned guitar intro. The classic rock groove features a haze of Cheap Trick aura, but the song rolls through a number of sections, each of which with their own mood. This gives the tune a nice dynamic between reminiscence and bravado:
There's a California wildfire burnin' through the hills tonight
And they're telling us to stay inside
But we've been stuck inside for the better part of our lives
And I just wanna watch something burn.
The Winter Song has a looser demo feel, with a chiming guitar and echoed vocals. The wash of distorted backing guitars and other sonic artifacts give it an experimental air. It's more of a stretch for the band, but it features the same earnest honesty that permeates the Henry Clay People's songs.

The Winter Song runs right into the start of This Is A Desert. Although the verses start out pretty tight, the looser guitar in the turnaround reflects the anarchy of the previous track. If these two songs offer a glimpse of new direction for the band, it is a wilder, less focused vibe. While I wouldn't trade this with their classic sound, This Is A Desert offers a good balance between the two approaches.

The EP wraps up with It Isn't The Waiting, which is squarely back in the band's home camp. The opening line, "Our time is for wastin', so let's get wasted away", offers a clever start to what turns out to be more philosophical tune. The guitars dominate as always, but there are some nice bass lines buried in the mix.

This Is A Desert reminds us that the Henry Clay People is still on the scene. They have a couple of dates in LA at The Satellite. I'm torn between wanting them to tour through Colorado again or cut another full length album. In the meantime, let's stay with rum and Coke, but add a splash of Kahlua.

- Review of Somewhere on the Golden Coast
- Review of Henry Clay People live with the Drive By Truckers
- Interview with Joey Siara

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