These are halcyon times for Country vocal groups. So how does a new group stand out? The Henningsens have at least two ways of making an impression in this crowded field.
One involves songwriting: On American Beautiful, their Arista Nashville debut, Brian Henningsen, son Aaron and daughter Clara, as a trio or in various combinations, join with various co-writers on all 10 tracks, with consistently pleasing results.
Match that with singing that exceeds today’s standards for technique, expression and emotion, and you’ve got a winner on your hands. Producer Paul Worley captures every nuance of Clara’s phrasing and then pulls back to reveal their three-part power in all its glory. The title cut (written by all three with Brett Beavers) anchors on a punchy power-guitar riff and soars on a catchy, sing-along chorus. It’s no surprise that this single totaled 77 Country Aircheck and Billboard radio adds in its first week.
But dig into the album and you’ll discover other levels of artistry. A nostalgic fiddle and dreamy waltz setting take us deep into “Arkansas” (Brian and Clara with Cactus Moser), whose story of aged siblings gathered for a brother’s funeral casts a spell that lingers after the last chord dies. (Recollections of “kerosene nights and innocent days” draw us back into a nearly forgotten past.) And when they join voices to celebrate the light that guides them through stormy times on “To Believe” (all three with Jimmy Yeary), even doubters have to be left feeling a little less alone.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS
BOOK ON YOUR NIGHTSTAND
BRIAN: “Jayber Crow, by Wendell Barry.”
CLARA: “The Bible, Sense and Sensibility.”
AARON: “The Bible.”
WHAT YOU WOULD BE IF NOT A MUSICAL ARTIST
BRIAN: “A farmer.”
CLARA: “A marine biologist.”
AARON: “A senator.”
ALL: “Our producer, Paul Worley.”
SONG YOU’D WISH YOU’D WRITTEN
ALL: “‘The House That Built Me’ or ‘Wichita Lineman.’”
SOMETHING WE’D NEVER GUESS ABOUT YOU
ALL: “We get along really well but we love to argue. We call it debating.”
On the Web: www.TheHenningsens.com
On Twitter: @TheHenningsens
NEW ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: The Henningsens
By Bob Doerschuk
© 2013 CMA Close Up® News Service / Country Music Association®, Inc.