CD Review: Henry Wagons – Expecting Company? (Thirty Tigers, 2013)
Henry Wagons’ namesake band has been galloping about Australia since their 2002 debut, but this EP is the singer-songwriter’s first “solo” effort. There are quotes around that because, as the title suggests, Wagons welcomes partners (including the Kills’ Allison Mosshart and the Go-Between’s Robert Forster) on six of the seven tracks. The more straight-forward country sounds of 2011’s Rumble, Shake and Tumble have widened into the sort of cinematic Ennio Morricone-vein once spun by Wall of Voodoo. Wagons sings darkly themed songs in low tones reminiscent of Nick Cave, Johnny Cash and Lee Hazelwood. The latter’s eccentric drama attaches especially well to lyrics of rat-filled nightmares, an executioner’s lament, an unchaste ode to Mary Magdelene, cheating and second-chance appeals. The set closes with, “Marylou Two,” remade from his group’s last album, and its lyric of loneliness is sung here as the EP’s only solo vocal. This is a good taste of Henry Wagons’ music, though several shades darker than that made with his eponymous group.