Lo-fi troubadour releases debut album without monikers, its slightly skewed walked down memory lane
Sean Henry Makes deconstructed pop songs. I’m not saying that he’s like a contestant on Come Dine, trying to show off by giving guests some cream, mascarpone, a couple of sponge fingers and a shot of coffee and calling it a tiramisu. What Henry does do however is take the idea of what a pop song should be, but subverting this through scratchy guitars, loose vocals and an even more laxed approach to production give his debut album It’s All About Me a feeling of intimacy and empathy that over produced pap stars can only dream of.
When’s Heaven kicks the album off in fine form. Jaunty guitars rub shoulders with loose drumming, and the applause at the end is a nice touch. Willow Tree is a more sombre affair. The use of harmonies really adds emotion and tugs at the old heart strings. Peach Blossoms simple chugging guitars get the song going, but it isn’t until the main riff kicks in half way through that Peach Blossoms turns into not only one of the stand out moments of the album but a serious contender of earworm of the year.
Debut single The Crow is full of heartache and longing, but he’s pretty loose with composition, at times The Crow feels like it’s going to crumble under its wonky rhythm and ad hoc melody. Luckily it doesn’t and by the end you want to hear more of his skewed pop world view. The Centipede is one of the quicker songs on the album and this change of speed is a welcome change adding a slightly different texture and feel to the proceedings. Is instrumental Permanent Vacation inspired by Jim Jarmusch’s debut feature film? It gives off a similar vibe, but who knows. The City is more of an experimental soundscape than a pop song. The intro sounds like tubes rushing past an empty station at midnight, and the ambient noise really establishes that claustrophobic feel that only great cities produce.
At twenty seven minutes long It’s All About Me doesn’t outstay it’s welcome, in fact it cries out for another listen. At times this isn’t the happiest album as it deals with themes of nostalgia, love, paranoia, melancholy, happiness and ultimately death, but it’s not a total downer. At times, due to Henry’s gift at turning a phrase, the fifteen songs that make up It’s All About Me are life affirming, and ultimately they are about hope and redemption.