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January 2022

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Katie Henry
On My Way
Ruf Records

Katie Henry

New Jersey area guitarist and pianist Katie Henry is the latest blues artist under the age of 30 to jump onto the scene. On My Way (Ruf Records) isn't the first album by this scintillating performer, but it served as my introduction to Ms. Henry. The title of the album is appropriate, since she certainly is an artist on her way to bigger and better things. She's a strong singer, guitarist and piano player, and just as impressive is her songwriting skills, with all ten songs on On My Way being written by Henry in collaboration with band member Antar Goodwin.

I missed out on Henry's first album from 2018, High Road, so On My Way is serving as an introduction to this rising star. The first description of her music that I saw called her blues/rock, which I don't believe is an accurate portrayal. Yes, there is blues/rock here, but I also pick up plenty of straight blues and Americana/country. That's traveling in a lot of different directions, but Henry is successful at pulling it all together in a cohesive package.

On My Way opens with the title cut, and this one is more blues/rock but with a tinge of country in Henry's voice. With a thumping bass drum beat and heavy guitar accompaniment from producer Ben Rice, this number serves as a good introduction to what this young woman has in store for us. "Empty Cup" is a snaky blues, with beautiful vocals by Henry as she sings about her pessimism with a relationship. Piano plays a big role on this number, and I'm assuming it's Henry on the 88s while fellow keyboardist Kurt Thum joins in on organ. Best cut here, and the first one I chose to play on Blues Bytes Radio.

Henry is back to rockin' the blues on the up-tempo "Without A Fight," propelled along by the steady beat of drummer Greg Wieczorek. Like the opener, this one brings in just a touch of country, and her voice shows impressive range to keep up with Thum's frantic organ playing. "Bury You" also incorporates all of Henry's influences, with a heavy, steady beat and Henry's commanding vocals.

"Setting Sun" is a gentle, peaceful song, with piano from Henry and organ from Thum. This one feels a little more like a soul ballad with Henry's pleasant yet powerful vocals as she laments a relationship gone bad and tries to figure out how to undo what's been done. What a beautiful song! The pace increases on the next number, "Got Me Good," another that I'll drop into the blues/rock bucket, with parts of it reminiscent of 1970s-era Fleetwood Mac. Rice chimes in with a nice blues guitar solo midway through the tune. Henry's voice really soars as she ends the song about the one that got away.

"Blessings" leans more toward the country side, with Goodwin contributing tasteful slide guitar licks with Henry giving advice to "... count your blessings and leave the rest ..." Harmonica ace Giles Robson shows up on one song, the slower, plodding blues, "Too Long," and Thum again tears it up with a very fine organ solo. The song closes with another strong slide solo from Goodwin.

Henry sits down at the piano for the slow, soulful "Running Round," singing about a period when she stopped running around and discovered her strengths. Another beautiful song that showcases her triple threat of talents --- singing, playing the piano and writing such outstanding songs.

Goodwin opens and closes the final number, "Catch Me If You Can," with killer slide guitar, and a steady drum beat sends Henry on a road trip with no specific plan as to where she's going, telling everyone to catch her if you can. It's an upbeat and feelgood number that will be running through your head for hours after the last note. Like many other songs on this album, I struggled to decide which genre bucket to put this one in. I finally just took all 10 cuts and put them in one container called "great music." Like I said, she takes all of the various influences to her music and wraps them all into one delectable package.

On My Way is a winner, marking Katie Henry as an artist with a very bright future. As she recommends in the final cut, catch her if you can. If, like me, you weren't familiar with Henry before this, On My Way is a nice introduction to her music.

--- Bill Mitchell

 

 

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