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Paul Henshaw – Of No Particular Consequence – Review

I eagerly awaited Henshaw’s latest album as ‘Nice Folk’ was one of our favourite releases of recent years and so I was pretty sure that the new album would be good. I didn’t know, however, that ‘Of No Particular Consequence’ was going to be absolutely incredible.


From the awesome opening anthem ‘The Adventurer’ to the final track, the belting building ballad ‘Save Me, Hate Me’, the whole album is a compelling collection of thought-provoking lyrics against the backdrop of memorable melodies.


At this point, I’d advise you just to buy the album and bypass reading my feeble attempt at explaining why it should be on your playlist, but let’s start with ‘The Adventurer’, which opens the album. Musing on the malevolence that can sometimes infiltrate social media, Henshaw turns a negative experience into an ode to optimism, celebrating life in this storming track that plays with rhythm in a clever way that begs to be danced to in a festival field.


‘Partially Martyred’ explores the theme of rebuilding and is itself based on a reworked version of ‘Glasgow’. I love the melding of various musical instruments to create the soundscape that underlies the vocal delivery in parts of this track and the sing-a-long ending will make it a popular choice at gigs. It explores themes that are relatable against a stomping backbeat that keeps you coming back for more.


The tempo then changes for ‘Like Plastic In A Flame’ as Henshaw and the band take the very best elements of mellow indie rock, lacing an ethereal mesmerising melody to intense lyrics about emotional disequilibrium and then morphing into a marvellous guitar courtesy of George Marriott from Pet Needs. This rapidly became one of my favourite songs as it is beautiful but brutal at the same time, and that’s what human emotions are really, isn’t it?


‘Fake Masquerades’ is a poem to passionately living in the moment that shines with lyrical dexterity and the positivity is echoed by the soaring solo that underscores the anthemic melody. The chorus of voices at the end should be replicated at gigs as everyone holds their mobiles aloft, and the track consolidates the certainty that this album is something truly spectacular.


‘The Wilkinson Trio’ is a performance by Henshaw’s mother and belongs here as part of an album that gives us glimpses into Henshaw’s sense of self that allows us to explore our own emotions through the mirror of the musician’s memories.


On which note, next up is ‘All The Other Times’. It is a bittersweet building ballad of such musical magnificence that I can’t really find the words to describe it other than that the band create an epic auditory tapestry through which Henshaw’s emotive vocal pulls on the pathos of every single one of us who ever wanted more from our parents. It is a song that you feel as much as you hear and it is a song that speaks sublimely to me.


‘With Love And A Handshake’ is about Secretan and Van Gogh and paints a picture of a friendship in dark circumstances. The glorious melody combines with the story of the painter’s end and is an artist’s appreciation of another’s art, the sadness of the sentiment offset by the loveliness of the tune.


In grassroots music, you meet lots of charismatic characters and in ‘The Ballad Of Super Ted’, Henshaw has penned a poignant epitaph to one of his fallen friends. An elegant elegy about saying goodbye and remembering those that brought us joy.


I have been singing along to ‘This War’ at several gigs already through the early stages of Summer. It is a lockdown song that transcends that time because of its message of solidarity and has brilliant lines like ‘drank a storm from my own teacup’. It encapsulates exactly why we love Henshaw’s music so much because these songs feel as though he has crept inside our own consciousness and turned our experiences into artful compositions that say what we feel so much better than we can. It is also a timely reminder of the lockdown performances that Henshaw did to keep us all going when the world stood still and we really did need to lean on him.


After such a rousing celebration of mutual support, ‘For Miriam’ hits incredibly hard, which is exactly the point. It tells the tale of a three year old murdered by the Nazis and who is commemorated by a Stolperstein, hence the repeated refrain. The poignancy is important because songs that speak to us might just make us speak out in a world where children are still dying every day.


The swaying symphony of ‘Let Fireworks Ignite The Skies’ builds to a belting melody and the lyrics perhaps continue the narrative of ‘All The Other Times’, again creating a sing-a-long chorus that tells a tale of rejection and its impact.


‘No Longer Proud’ is a call to arms with drums that demand a revolution and a fantastic flying fiddle. This symphonic shout for social justice is a stomping slice of brilliance with the rap by Samantics spitting lines that suggest there is a better world coming if we choose it.


Ending with the glorious ‘Save Me, Hate Me’, another song that takes raw emotional passion and turns it into something sincerely redemptive, its crescendo of an ending leaves you wanting even more of Henshaw’s heartfelt harmonies so it’s probably time to listen to the album again, and again, and again because you just notice new things every time. It is only May, but we can probably safely say that Henshaw has released our album of the year. It is just superbly sublime.

Editor of LLR since 2005

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