Guitarist-singer-songwriter Henry Parker comes from Keighley which is something of a hotbed for musicians as far as we can gather. After a spell playing in a metal band, Henry succumbed to the lure of folk music and set about recording his debut solo album, Silent Spring. Initially, I played it in the car without recourse to the cover or any notes and after a while I realised that I was hearing Pentangle.
The title of the first track, ‘New Mantras’, gives away its style. There is flute from Theo Travis and congas from Brendan Bache and Henry’s guitar – no, it doesn’t sound like a sitar but it has those cascading notes that give it the feel of Indian music. Underpinning it all is Augustin Bousfield’s double bass and there you have the sound of the sixties. Henry can play guitar like John Renbourn and Bert Jansch and his singing is not unlike Bert’s in his younger days. The title track, up next, is as relevant now as Rachel Carson’s book was in 1962 and then comes ‘False Guidance’, the first of two songs about money and its effect on society. The second, ‘Prospect Of Wealth’, anthropomorphises money as the principal driver of our lives.
Henry turns to the tradition with ‘Sylvie’, a spare reading decorated with Travis’ flute, and then switches to ‘Door Walk Blues’, sounding more like Jansch than ever although he could have learned the song from Bill Broonzy. He didn’t, of course, it’s another original as is the up-tempo ‘Drive East’. ‘Marbled Wren’ is the first of two instrumentals, this one a solo acoustic guitar piece, and the album closes with a gorgeous, shimmering electric guitar take on ‘Willie O Winsbury’.
Henry has managed to encapsulate the sound of fifty years ago with new songs and a new ear. The package includes lyrics, guitar tunings and capo positions so all you have to do is practise.
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Artist’s website: www.henryparkermusic.co.uk
‘Silent Spring’ – live: