Ainslie Henderson - Growing Flowers by Candlelight
Reviewed by Ben on 29th August 2006
If the music industry were to be divided into a percentage, then I would imagine R&B and Indie given a large segment of that 'pie'. However, coming hot on their tails, dare I say it almost level with the popularity of Hip Hop, is the work of solo musicians. It began with the popularity of Johnny Cash and Nick Cave, then came the wave of college rock/alt.rock artists like Lisa Loeb, Juliana Hatfield and Matthew Sweet. It died off a little, with a lack of commercial success for guys like Sufjan Stevens and Brendan Benson. It became popular again with the delicate, almost pouty-pouty emo sensibility of Chris Carrabba from Dashboard Confessional.
Then came James Blunt, a cause for controversy. And through the hugely popular track You're Beautiful made it cool for those solo artists not involved in the R&B or Hip Hop scene to come out of the woodwork and dust off the covers of Wonderwall and pen a song or two about their last girlfriend. And the record companies, much like with Grunge...and Nu Metal.... and Punk, went and signed a legion of these artists.
Former Fame Academy contestant Ainslie Henderson sent his debut album for reviewing. Guffaw all you want, ladies and gentlemen.
Released on his own record label (Amphibian Husbandry), Growing Flowers by Candlelight is an eleven song journey through countless emotions associated with heartbreak and longing. Some of them are drenched in foolhardy denial (Don't Say), self-assimilation (Man Made) and recollection of past romantic scenarios (Love I Remember), all lovingly caressed in sometime cynicism, sometime false hope.
So what so different about Henderson's release compared to other artists on bigger labels? Well, for a start, there does seem to be genuine sentiment behind his music - from the tender strokes on the piano to the pliant harmonies projected from his vocals. Where other artists of this electro-acoustic/solo genre sometimes adopt a 'bomb track' (in meaning a burst of efficacy through parts of the song) methodology to their work, Henderson doesn't feel the need to do this - which adds a haunting dynamic to his work.
Solo musicians are saturating the market. As much as I hate to admit it, though, a former Fame Academy antagonist is head and shoulders better than many of his same kind. Where's David Sneddon? Exactly...
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