Band leader Don Rooke’s vocals come in at just barely a whisper at times with an undeniably inviting melody over a curveball laden orchestra of harmonic twists and turns played on an array of instruments you won’t be finding at the corporate guitar store down the street anytime soon. Glide Magazine, April 2022
We have a new record, released on April 7, 2022, called Shrug.
It’s available on Bandcamp, on this site, or via all the streaming options.
If you’re interested in ordering from Bandcamp (a good place), there are a few options:
- Just digital (includes a pdf of the liner notes). This is the least expensive route.
- Hard copy CD+Digital download of high quality files (also with a pdf of the liner notes)
- or the Shrug Collector Bundle: The Whole Henchilada (including a 32-page printed booklet.)
Bandcamp always includes the audiofile’s beloved hi-res digital download option.
Alternatively, if you don’t care about digital files and just want the real, physical thing, from this very site you can buy either the:
- CD plus printed 32-page booklet (Shrug Combo Meal: The Physical Henchilada)
- Or just the CD. Which comes with free companion pdf liner notes, which you would download here at no cost
Finally, if you’re a streamer, Shrug is accessible via the usual digital streaming sites.
Here’s a review of the record from the venerable and always rewarding publication RootsWorld.
Review by Chris Nickson
The Henrys are one of those curious little Canadian enigmas. For almost 30 years now, they’ve been periodically emerging with new albums containing staggeringly good, inventive music, maybe playing a show or two, then vanishing back into Toronto like northern ninjas. They’re one of those bands where ‘if you know, you know’ is true, and if you don’t, well, you really should. Cult doesn’t quite hit the spot; I’m not sure they’re big enough for that. But they plough their own furrow and do it oh so well.Shrug sees a small change, with leader/guitarist Don Rooke now handling most of the vocals, helped by Maggie Keogh, over one of the tautest rhythm sections in music, plus occasional guests. But everything remains honed, sharp, and ready to entertain and sometimes confound.
There’s philosophy in the lyrics, widely tempered with humor, as on “Shrug-A-Lug,” a tale of trying to live a good life in the modern world. It’s all intimate in presentation, with an informality that also manages to be very precise – listen to the interplay between instruments during the slide solo; it’s exquisite. Even what might seem like throwaways are captivating. The funky and short “Monsieur Cliché” is a toe-tapper, with sly lyrics and slide guitar work to take your breath away with delight – and then it’s gone.“Let Me Make This Plane” drips with longing, but the narrator seems to be held back, a step forward and another back. But life is like that, isn’t it, always trying to catch its breath and forge ahead. The Henrys seem to exist in the uncertainties of living.
There’s always one song on a Henrys album that stands head and shoulders above the others. Here it’s “Ascension Day Night,” where all the masks are discarded and the heart is open and baring its emotions over a gorgeous chord sequence that meanders through the song. At times if feels as if the song is holding its breath through the winding spoken words. Undefinable but magnificent – which is perhaps the best way of describing album and band, too. They’re not…well, any label you want to put on them. They simply are, and you should be there with them.
Jeff MacPherson has written a really lovely, in-depth review of Shrug.
And another, from Holland, from Moors Magazine.
via Google Translate: The Henrys is a completely unique Canadian band, centered around the genius Don Rooke, a composer and multi-instrumentalist who knows how to perform miracles on various guitars. Rooke usually invites guest musicians over so that the Henrys are always a changing company, but this time around, thanks to the pandemic, he's staying close to home and even doing the vocals himself, making you wonder why he hasn't done it more often and much earlier, because he has a pleasant, intimate voice and he knows how to present his own songs very convincingly. Davide DiRenzo on drums and Paul Pasmore on his 1963 Fender Precision bass support Rooke, who plays the stars of the sky on steel and various other guitars, organ and more, crystal clear, melodic and always exciting and surprising. And then the vocals, that uncomplicated, deceptively simple way of singing, in which he is occasionally assisted by the second voice of Maggie Keogh. That singing touches you, precisely because of the uneducated way of singing. Because, just like his guitar playing, it is all exactly and just right. I won't go into the lyrics here, which are all food for thought, and which often contain fantastic formulations, as in Faint of Heart: "You're board, I'm the dart". The lyrics contain surprises that you might find after a few spins, and that also applies to the instrumental parts, which I can lyricize about, because Rooke can't be placed in any category - he just makes breathtakingly beautiful music you can always listen to. Shrug is another masterpiece.
We’ve released a video for two songs already, the first shot ‘on location,’ as they say, in Wyoming. Not that we live in Wyoming. Well, one of us does, sometimes. More info about Shrug to come, and a third video, for a song called Fault Lines.
Here’s a feature-length radio interview Don did with Laura Kurdyak,
talking about the band’s influences and lots of other stuff.