Album Review: Matthew Henry’s ‘To the Haunting Northern Winds’

ImageMy best friend told me a couple of weeks ago about one of her classmates who has an album. I clicked the link to this digital album immediately after she sent it to me over Facebook, and I was not too disappointed. Matthew Henry’s ‘To the Haunting Northern Winds’ is not the kind of album I’m used to listening to, but some of these tracks are actually quite good.

Right off the back I realized that 20 year old Matthew Henry sounds a lot like Andrew Belle. Any mention of Andrew Belle gets me excited, so those of you familiar with his music might like this album a lot. The genre of ‘To the Haunting Northern Winds’ is mostly folk, with a lot of guitar and banjo chords throughout. Even though some of the songs aren’t as interesting as others, I really love the lyrics for each one. I must say, Mr. Henry, that you write some of the most beautiful verses I have ever read.

Matthew Henry’s got the entire package: the slow, somber voice, the deep lyrics, and the plucking skills that put that banjo and guitar to some serious use!

“Old Hickory”, “Books”, “April and May”, “A Coastal Reminder”, “North Lot Blues” and “Of Grass and Soul” are very heavy on the banjo, making them sound very folk and country-like. The way he strums the banjo in these tracks are sure to get your feet tapping!

“Under the River” is an interesting track. It features the constant beat of a piano chord throughout the song, adding to the haunting lyrics. The drums come in as he sings,

There’s never a better day to remember
Than the minute you first fell in love
The tracks grew
The train was so lovely.

At this point there is a harmony between the one piano pulsing chord and a new melody that sounds like a “lovely” train is indeed approaching. The lyrics in this song are full of imagery, making it all the more haunting.

“Down the Barrel” is unlike most of the other tracks on this album. It’s very slow in the intro, and focuses more on the guitar, giving it a ballad quality.

My favorite two songs on this album are “Juniper” and “South Farm Road”. The lyrics in these two songs are just perfection. The best part of “Juniper” is where he sings,

“Can I have the courage to do what I want to do? Will the junipers remember who I am? Sat down by a river, it gave me everything I need. Can I dance with the white pines in the white light?
Winters a lonely saint.”

The melancholy banjo in this song compliment the lyrics so well.

From “South Road Farm” I really like the part that goes,

“Rusted eyes hold together the oak and caving boards. Turning time into nothing more than fear for the uninformed. Face the door, face the door, there’s a whole life beyond this sunken porch.”

The light piano in “South Road Farm” is so beautiful. I think this song should play during the end credits of an old Western film.

Actually, this whole album could score a Western!

Listen to the full album here: http://matthewhenry.bandcamp.com/

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