Taking a break from his instrumental project Djam Karet, multi-instrumentalist Mike Henderson has released White Arrow Project – an acoustic album several years in the making that incorporates the talents of Henderson and four other seasoned musicians from Southern California. All five individuals have recorded with each other in the past, yet this was the first time they came together on the same project. The result is a pleasant album full of wide-sky warmth, burnt-orange melodies, and an undeniable spirit of camaraderie. Look at the scenic cover of White Arrow Project, and you'll get a grand idea of how this music sounds.
Less challenging than a Djam Karet disc, White Arrow Project – on which Henderson plays guitar, bass, synthesizer, percussion and mandolin – includes several songs with vocals. Jack Housen handles most singing duties with a dusty, understated voice. The laid-back "Summertime" sounds like something you'd hear on a Saturday-at-the-Seventies radio station today, while "Starting Over" suggests that at least some of Henderson's solo material may not fall far from the Porcupine Tree. But the tracks on which Caroline Dourley adds her lovely vocals – "Lasso," "Can't Wait Anymore" and "Goddess" – resound with beauty, texture and mystery. The music suits Housen, but give me a whole album of Dourley. Henderson doesn't abandon the instrumental format entirely, and he still makes his guitar sing on "Emergence."
While some hardcore Djam Karet fans my cringe at Henderson's musical direction here, it's refreshing to hear him veer so dramatically from what some listeners might expect. Nicely done.
1) Never Be the Same
4) Stone Wall
6) Starting Over
7) Can't Wait Anymore
11) Read My Mind