Katie Henry – On My Way
Ruf Records – 2022
10 tracks; 38.12 minutes
Katie Henry’s 2018 debut album High Road received a lot of praise and was a nominee for a Blues Blast Award for New Artist Debut Album. Since then she has signed for Ruf and will be on their 2022 Blues Caravan tour with Ghalia Volt and Eddie 9V; no doubt she will be promoting this album. Recorded in NYC, the album features Katie’s three-pronged attack of vocals, piano and guitar on an all-original selection of material written by Katie and bass/slide guitar player Antar Goodwin: other musicians involved are Kurt Thiem on keys, Greg Wieczorek on drums and producer Ben Rice on guitar and vocals; British harmonica player Giles Robson sits in on one track. The material ranges across blues and Americana and Katie’s attractive voice works well on all the songs.
The opener has a great rhythm track over which layers of guitars are added as Katie decries two-faced people who will try to put her down; she certainly sounds confident that she is “On My Way”! In “Empty Cup” Katie sings that “it would be a sin to fail before we begin”, her bright piano to the fore of an attractive arrangement. If that track is Americana in style, “Without A Fight” is almost country-rock with jangly guitars and a bouncing rhythm, Katie sounding defiant in tone. We get more of a blues-rock feel on “Bury You” with its pounding drums, lively guitars and cautionary refrain of “bury the past or the past will bury you”. “Setting Sun” has a quiet, acoustic opening before piano and drums come in; Katie sings this one particularly well and gives the wistful lyrics an emotional feel.
We switch back to a more uptempo style on “Got Me Good” with solid guitar work over a busy rhythm section and warm organ wash. “Blessings” is another country-inflected tune with Katie’s piano, acoustic and slide guitar and an earworm chorus that gives a positive message of leaving the bad stuff behind you. Giles Robson’s harp ups the blues quotient on the chugging “Too Long” on which you can clearly hear several guitars at work. Following the pattern of alternating slower and heavier tunes, “Running Round” is another emotional, piano-led ballad in which Katie confesses that she always believed that she would eventually find “someone with a heart of gold”, but she never did. Album closer “Catch Me If You Can” races along with busy drums, slide and piano accents, a song about letting go and following “a new plan”: maybe it’s a message to Katie’s fans that she is off and running.
Interestingly, in the album sleeve notes, Katie thanks her parents for “the Eagles concerts and piano lessons” and there is certainly something of an Eagles feel to songs like the last two on the album and “Without A Fight”. The blues can be more obviously found on tracks like “Too Long” and “Bury You” but, if pure blues is what you are after, this one is not for you. On the other hand, if you enjoy good vocals and catchy tunes, do check Katie out.