CD REVIEW: Michael Henchman - 40 Miles From Midnight
by: Cyrus Rhodes
Genre: Acoustic, Folk-Rock, Americana, Singer/Songwriter
Sounds Like: Don McLean, Neil Young, America, The Eagles, John Denver
Winded Songs. Vocal Ability, Lack of vocal Risks, Repetitive Catalog
(PORTLAND, OR) The title track of Michael Henchman’s new album "40 Miles From Midnight" asks the question “When you gonna stop your runnin’?” The answer comes in rousing anthems, bittersweet ballads and stories of roads less traveled, forming a cast of quintessentially American characters: orphans and outlaws, wanderers and westerners, the homeless and the heartbroken, those who hope to find love against all odds.
The CD kicks things off with “Circle Back” a catchy upbeat piece that serves up steady rock beat, acoustic rhythm guitar, and hooky vocal accents from Henchman. Track 2 “Heartland” is yet another impressive acoustic-based ballad serving up impressive harmonies, rock steady rhythm, well placed Piano from Henchman and company. Track 3 “40 Miles From Midnight” shifts gears a bit and dishes out an impressive musical build, impassioned vocal delivery and impressive finale that flows and ebbs it’s way through to emotional fruition. The music itself has a rock steady acoustic rock/folk vibe reminiscent of Don Mclean, America, Neil Young, and maybe a splash of John Denver and even The Eagles. I would classify this music as straight forward Singer/Songwriter, Americana with a Folkish flair. I can also hear a dash of Country and R&B. It fills the sonic space peacefully, and unobtrusively. The vocal style of Henchman goes down smooth, and is warm, inviting. Henchman also brings to the table some amazing musical variety and world class instrumentation from impressive harmonica, rock ability style fretwork, harmonica, lap steel, slide guitar, dojo, accordion, well placed piano accents, impressive harmonies layered within the music. Henchman delivers a delightful baritone and impressive songwriting touch throughout. By track 4 CD hits solid stride dishing out some really invigorating pieces back to back. "40 Miles from Midnight” delivers 12 songs that are extremely well crafted and consistent. All engineering aspects check out. CD's possesses thick low end punch and crystal clear high end clarity. The production value of this CD is as good as it gets. From dynamic “Seven Winds” and striking “Canyon Bones” to hypnotic “Straight On” to heartfelt “Fireflies” and “Into the Void” to rocking Motel Dog” this CD for just about everybody. The CD ends with track11 “Isn’t It Time” the perfect finale statement for a CD of this caliber.
All songs over 3.5 minutes tend to drag you to the finis line. Henchman’s voice is adequate but it’s fair to say he doesn’t possess a world class vocal ability. I also wish Henchman took more vocal risks throughout with more raw emotion, especially during some of the pin drop moments. Throughout the CD Henchman elects to really play it safe vocally, avoiding any serious vocal risks that would indicate a gifted and trained vocal ability. His widely spaced vibrato and lackluster timber will take a toll on some listeners over time. CD tends to sound repetitive overall. If this review seems a bit lopsided or polarizing it merely reflects the extremes presented on the "40 Miles From Midnight."
Michael Henchman is an impressive singer, songwriter, artist from Portland, OR. There’s not really weak song on this entire catalogue The CD is extremely consistent, the musicianship is first rate, all songs ere heartfelt musical experiences reminiscent of classic Americana/Folk. The Production value is professional grade and the CD is fully loaded with 11 tracks to choose from. Each song possesses a unique personality, flair, and signature groove. This CD will be a real joy for those listeners out there who want flowing Americana musical experience to fill their sonic atmosphere. I recommend you just hit play, close your eyes and see where the journey takes you.