Prolific singer songwriter Jack Henderson offers his latest contribution in the way of a festive collaboration with Joan As Police Woman. New track ‘Bethlehem’ grants a fresh take on the nativity story featuring pragmatic lyrics, a beautiful gospel-style piano and understated vocal harmonies from his acclaimed collaborator throughout.
When it comes to name dropping, Henderson’s worked with the best of them. As well as a solo career that stands for itself, the American singer songwriter has written for the likes of Ron Sexsmith and has shared the stage with acts such as cult Canadian outfit Cowboy Junkies. Nowadays Henderson can also be found mingling with fellow musicians Ed Harcourt, Boo Hewerdine and Chris Difford in his home of Scotland. Formative years of immersing himself in the thick of a number of bands accumulated in debut solo album Cheap Tattoos, which surfaced in 2001. Henderson worked with Don Heffington (Bob Dylan, Neil Young) and Richard Causon (Ryan Adams, Rufus Wainwright) on the album and received a positive response from a growing fan base. 2007’s ‘Fragile Skin’ followed on the path that his debut set out with vibrato rich vocals and more sophisticated guitar arrangements taking the spot light.
The new release brings a lesser known side to Henderson’s growing repertoire and the collaboration with Joan As Police Woman adds to his ever expanding musical CV. But, amidst mixing with some of music’s greats, Henderson assures fans that his sights are firmly set on his own new album release – due in 2015. “The most important thing remains the song. That’s what has to stand up. If it doesn’t everything else is a waste of time”. Bethlehem starts strong with the wonderfully festive and comforting chord progression of a solo piano – almost Rufus Wainwright-esc. Henderson’s vocals cut through the mix and then go one step further when his masterful lyrics begin to re-cast the birth of Jesus as a very modern tale. His lyrics bring a fresh and stimulating twist to a story that has been heard so many times describing Jesus as a ”refugee” and Joseph as a ”Vagabond”, for instance. The song builds with the subtle addition of strings and the understated contribution from Henderson’s co-vocalist. The song is brought to an end when an effective ritardando slows the tempo and both singers reach high in their ranges and sustain notes in harmony that slowly fade away.
The new track is a compliment to Henderson’s growing maturity as an artist and his ability to diversify. As Clash aptly comment, to say an artist as established as Joan As Police Women is on backing vocals is possibly the highest compliment that could be given.
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