Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Review: James Henry "Overspill"

James Henry is a jack of all trades - writing, recording, producing, and performing for over ten years now from New York to L.A. to Austin to his homebase in London. "Overspill" is his latest offering - a follow up to 2004's "Sweetener". The first single, "The Sun Is Cracking The Flags", is a pop fan's dream that grabs you right at the get-go with its catchy 'la la la' opening. Henry wastes no time engraving the contagious chorus into your memory, and I've not been able to get this song out of my head all week. Since it is such a neat little pop tune that makes me smile, I don't mind so much.

There isn't anything else quite as smashing and instantly memorable on "Overspill" as the delightful "The Sun Is Cracking The Flags", but fans of light, acoustic-based Brit pop are going to find a little piece of heaven in this record. Vocally, Henry sounds like a cross between Glenn Tilbrook (Squeeze) and Gilbert O'Sullivan. "Milsom Heights" is a sunny opener, complete with handclaps and a chorus that will have you singing along in no time. "Checkout Idling" makes it clear that Henry is no stranger to the music of James Taylor. I also really enjoyed the upbeat "Don't Let It Happen", which features a guitar run that reminds me of Mason Williams. "I'd Be All Over That" sounds like it would be comfortable on Jude Cole's latest record, so that one won me over as well.

James Henry specializes in intelligent pop songs for adults. "Overspill" has excellent production quality, with acoustic guitars that are bright and crisp, complex harmonies that gently float into your ears, and plenty of instrumental dynamics to keep things interesting. Fans of Squeeze, XTC, and Paul McCartney need to put "Overspill" into their cups. "Overspill" will be released on May 17.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 7, 8, 10

James Henry on MySpace. Official site.

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