Monday, July 27, 2020

CD Odyssey Disc 1391: Sean Henry

Even in this modern age where you can listen to an entire record before if you decide you want to own it, things can still go wrong. Here’s one of those.

Disc 1391 is…. A Jump from the High Dive
Artist: Sean Henry

Year of Release: 2019

What’s up with the Cover? A very poorly drawn cat. This cat looks like a recent escapee from an A-Ha music video. He also looks pissed off. Like he’s been chased around one too many times by those pipe wielding motorcycle cops and is about to drop a deuce made of corrugated cardboard on their paper shag carpet.

How I Came To Know It: I read a review and decided to check it out. Sean Henry didn’t (to my knowledge) release this album on CD so I downloaded it from Bandcamp and then I turned it into a CD. I’m stubborn about my preferred format.

How It Stacks Up: This is my only Sean Henry album, so it can’t stack up.

Ratings: 2 stars but almost 3
“A Jump From the High Dive” is the kind of music that’s perfect for sun and summertime; a laid back fuzzed out groove rock. And yet, despite listening to it in exactly the right conditions, it didn’t always work for me.

In fact, on each listen I got slightly more disinterested. On my final listen the album ended and the next song on my MP3 player came on (Queen’s “One Vision”). It felt so good to hear that song I let it play halfway through before I reluctantly skipped back to the beginning of “A Jump from the High Dive” to listen to it again and hope for a better result.

That result did not come, although the album at least leaves a good first impression. The opening track, “Can U” has a delightful harmonica and guitar groove, and later even a bit of funk guitar. The flat delivery and down-and-out imagery reminded me of early Beck.

As for subject matter, I’m not sure what “Can U” was about. Some sort of general ennui but it didn’t matter much. I also liked “Surf Song” which, as the title suggests, evokes a surfer vibe.
I think that fuzzed out surfer music sound is what drew me to Henry in the first place and when he hits it just right, it’s pretty fun. There are a few songs that land well, with easy flowing melodies that let your mind wander along and chill out.

Unfortunately, too often it feels derivative of mid-nineties alt-rock, but without the fresh experience of never having heard that kind of music before (I heard plenty of that in the mid-nineties).

I realize I’m being a bit harsh here. There is nothing awful about this record, and none of the songs are terrible, but it just sort of jangled along without ever giving me a “wow” moment. It is the kind of inoffensive record a friend might put on while you have a beer with him on the deck. Something in the background that he’ll ask if you’re ok with and you’ll answer, “it’s fine”. But four or five songs in, you are wondering “Why isn’t this on shuffle? Is he really going to play the whole thing?

On the CD Odyssey I require an even more immersive experience than that, and one of the reasons that I do is that I don’t want music on in the background because it is pleasant. I want music to inspire and intrigue me. “A Jump From the High Dive” was a perfectly serviceable record, but that’s just not enough for me to pick it off the shelve on any given day.

Instead, it felt like when you’re sitting on the beach and a volleyball comes rolling over to you. You’re happy to bump it back to the guys with a smile and friendly wave, but you don’t really want to join the game. This is my smile and friendly wave to Sean Henry. Take care buddy, and all the best.

Best tracks: Can U, Surf Song, Space Kicks, You Fall Away

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