Reverend Henry & The Pharisees
Reverend Henry & The Pharisees
2014 Independent release
Reverend Henry & The Pharisees is a project fronted by singer Henk van den Brink and guitarist Chris Gerretsen. The two go back a long time but never got around to creating an album together. After a few years of turmoil, the two got back together and promised each other that an album was going to happen. Henk, Chris and a number of befriended musicians delivered on that promise with “Reverend Henry & The Pharisees”.
The gritty, rootsy rocker Mary opens the album and shows what it is going to be all about. Infused with classic tones of American blues, rock & roll, folk and soul, Mary blasts out of your speakers. You can feel the tension, passion and energy that makes up this strong opener.
You hear the term ‘Heartland Rock’ (most often associated with Springsteen, CCR & Petty) sometimes. Honest, straightforward music that connects to the everyday man. Reverend Henry & The Pharisees continue in this same tradition. Ditchy is in the same corner as Tom Petty, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Black Crowes, while If You Don’t Mind is a little bluesier, grabbing back to Mayall & Haggard but the sound comes across more current.
Under My Skin is a typical rootsy rocker which fits the raspy vocals to a tee. No polish, nothing fancy. Because of that (not despite of it) the song stands strong. And then we reach the highlight of the record, Cracks & Stains. This Claptonesque mix of pop, rock & blues starts off with an impressive guitar intro that lasts about a minute. Then the vocals kick in and everything seems to fall into place. You can hear the imperfections, the pain, the hurt but also the subtle hope and longing. It is here that Reverend Henry & The Pharisees show that music isn’t always about being crafty or being surprising. If you can write and perform real songs that have something to say and if you can perform them at the top of your abilities and pour your heart and soul into it, you will outdo most everyone else. Which is exactly what they did on this song.
The record continues with a mix solid rock & roll (Jaded, Tomorrow), horns-infused soulrock (Tonight), garage rock (Pack Your Things and Go) until we hear the closer Spotless Sally, which surprised me at first listen because it mixes in some oldtime honkytonk and jazz. You don’t hear this much anymore in today’s popular music even though it makes for a very interesting basis in folk-rock music which is more popular than ever. The jumpy nature of the track, accentuated by the piano and the light character of the vocals ends this record on a high note.
Reverend Henry & The Pharisees isn’t a likely candidate to reach commercial success, which is a shame. The album is filled with 10 strong songs and a number of stand out songs (Mary, Cracks & Stains, Pack Your Things & Go, Spotless Sally) and will likely appeal to listeners of Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Bob Seger, Black Crowes, Rosemary’s Sons, Mayall, Allman Brothers, etc, but shouldn’t be limited to it. The basis of the songs may be traditional, in no way do these songs sound dated.