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Phillip Henry - True North (Dragonfly Roots)
Saving the right moment to sit down and listen to Phillip Henry's debut solo album has been well worth the wait. I held off until its release date with an hour of undisturbed quiet in order to absorb the material and soon realised 11 songs and 54 minutes later, that I'd written nothing but a bunch of superlatives, which seemed to describe the cover artwork, the liner notes and most importantly, the beautiful music within. Phillip Henry is a familiar face on the British folk and acoustic music scene, along with Hannah Martin, now collectively known as Edgelarks, but also as a fine accompanist to a variety of projects. TRUE NORTH is Phillip's moment alone.
Travelling the world in search of the roots of the slide guitar, the styles have been totally absorbed, from the old blues masters such as Blind Willie Johnson on I Can't Keep From Trying Sometimes and Pandit Debashish Bhattacharya, whose influence can be heard on both Reverence Revisited and Kalyan Variations, by way of the Indian Chaturangui, a 22-stringed instrument. The title song True North, written by Phillip with Hannah and inspired by a touch of homesickness whilst in Tasmania, sees Phillip in good voice, whilst O'Carolan's Welcome demonstrates how well the chaturangui adapts pretty Irish Harp music from one of the tradition's finest exponents. Good also to hear a fine reading of Tim O'Brien's Brother Wind, a song this reviewer heard the author sing at the 1995 Cambridge Folk Festival. A fine meditative album.