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Music Review - `Get Together` by Henrietta Swan (lm)

Henrietta Swan- Get Together (click on image to watch video)

 12 May  2020

 

Black

The first helpful piece of info one needs to know about Henrietta Swan is that there is no Henrietta Swan — not in the band, anyway. The name was chosen in homage to astronomer Henrietta Swan Leavitt, who lived from 1868 to 1921. It’s also helpful to know that they’re not really a band — not in the traditional sense, that is. Describing themselves as a collection of “musicians, poets and engineers from different parts of the U.S.,” they do most of their collaborating virtually, then sandwich the parts together in a Nashville studio.Trouble is, this EP’s four tracks do sound more like they were engineered than performed. The elements are there, but so is the sense that they were stitched together digitally, rather than fitting together as organic parts of a whole. Songs put together that way often wind up sounding overproduced, and these are no exception. For example, in “Road to Hell,” a Chris Rea cover, and “Odessa,” one of two originals, Gary Gladson’s guitar solos, as impressive as they are, seem to be inserted more because they’re impressive solos than because they serve the song. The band characterizes its sound as Americana, but it’s more a pastiche of sounds — including some shredding, bits of psych rock, suggestions of Fleetwood Mac … if all the engaging bits and pieces bouncing around in these songs like atomic particles could bond into a more cohesive whole, they might have more gravitational pull.Their version of “Get Together,” the timeless classic written by Chet Powers (aka Dino Valenti) and made famous by the Youngbloods, is pretty and soulful, with nice mandolin work by Ethan Ballinger and outstanding fiddle by Luke Bulla. But the fairydust backing vocals sprinkled over Lauren Shera Levine’s leads, and the effects added to her vocals, are unnecessary distractions; so is changing “smile on your brother” — a lyric deeply imprinted on our collective psyche — to “smile on each other” just to make it gender neutral.But those issues are less worrisome than the one that presents itself with the final track, “Unfold.” In just a few seconds, that “where have I heard this before” feeling coalesced into solid recognition; it’s far too close to Patti Smith’s “Dancing Barefoot” for comfort. There’s no question that those involved have talent; they just need to get their orbits into alignment. —

 

David McPherson

Lynne Margolis is a Pittsburgher-turned-Texan freelance writer/editor whose work has appeared in: NPRChristian Science MonitorThe GrammyAmerican SongwriterAustin MonthlyLone Star Music Magazine

She covers: Americana and roots music including rock, pop, soul, blues, folk; visual and performing arts/ent; festivals and venues from theaters to museums and streets; food; travel; animal welfare.

To Read All of Lynne's Reviews, Click Here

 

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