Rhythm & Views

Kevin Henderson

Longtime local musician Kevin Henderson, guitarist with the rock band The Swigs, has issued a top-notch double CD that is, for the most part, truly a solo effort--and on his own label, too.

On Watch Your Head, Henderson performs all vocals and plays all instruments in the recording, except for the tune "Effigy," which is credited to The Euphorians, a trio in which he's a member, along with bass-playing twin brother Michael and drummer Nick Augustine.

Divided into the quieter first disc (the "yin" disc) and the harder, more electric second ("yang") disc, the album also jumps between vocal tracks and instrumentals. The songs are usually beguiling, psychedelic-pop numbers, strummed big and glorious, drawing on inspirations such as XTC and The Beatles, while Henderson does an able job of singing nasal melodies like a cross between Robyn Hitchcock and Andy Partridge, most notably on the wonderful pair of opening songs "Turn Magic Wheel" and "Poison the Well."

Let's be real, though: The primary attraction here is Henderson's punchy guitar playing, which can be coy and delicate, as on the instrumental "Touch Wood," or more glam-rock raucous, as on the excellent "Lucy Stoner Stroll."

Whether playing acoustic or electric, Henderson proves his mettle, producing a fevered sound that at times recalls the folk, pop, country, blues, prog rock and jazz of musical progenitors Jeff Beck, Sandy Bull, Steve Howe, Bill Nelson and Leo Kottke, among others.

The aforementioned "Effigy," though it appears to have been recorded earlier, fits right in, with Michael Henderson's violin adding a nice Celtic-bluegrass lilt to what is not unlike a rocker by The Who.

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