The Beatles, Gerry And The Pacemakers, The Wombats, and now James Henry! Liverpool has been a home for rock and roll for decades on end and Henry has been involved in the background for close to forty years now. The self described “interloper” had been operating in the guitar scene in Liverpool during the 80s. Ever since, he’s lived in London, releasing two projects called “Sweetener” and “Overspill” in the 2000s. Now, more than a decade later, he’s back.
“Pluck” is the culmination of a decades worth of song writing backed by an artist who has experience far beyond that time. Cheery, upbeat, and instantly feel good, Henry’s senior project immaculately highlights the prowess of a veteran pop song writer. It carries with it the nostalgia of its influences, evoking the time when this kind of rock music dominated the airwaves across Britain and America.
The opening track “Girl Like You” sets the tone for the rest of the album. A happy-go-lucky bop that sounds straight out of the 70s melodic New-Wave era, it even carries a certain Beach Boys-esque influence to it. The follow up, “Cinema Haze” grew on me with each listen. It’s got an indescribably addictive chorus that’s aided by a beautifully layered vocal acapella. Clocking it at twelve tracks long, the project is an upbeat ensemble of a forgotten genre in an age that desperately needs some positivity.
For everyone who grew up on rock music, and I mean classic rock music, “Pluck” is a welcome oasis. It’s simple, it doesn’t overcomplicate matters. It retains the earnest sincerity of old school rock music but doesn’t sounded dated whatsoever. There’s a feeling that songs from that era make you feel that just seems entirely lost on today’s generation. Oftentimes, when artists try to replicate it, the same energy is hopelessly mimicked into a stale and disrespectful imitation. With James Henry however, the authenticity is evident and how.
But of course, nostalgia isn’t the only reason to pick up this project. Henry has a real knack for writing guitar rock anthems that have somehow consistently fallen under the radar. Although he might describe himself as wildly out of step with the youth, I have a feeling his music isn’t too far off what the youth would enjoy. With just a guitar, vocal melodies, and a few handclaps, he can craft a track far more enjoyable than overproduced arena rock. Henry might not feel in touch with the youth, but his songs are bound to strike a chord with a lot of them.