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Hensley, Ken: My Book Of Answers

The much missed Ken Hensley, who sadly passed away late last year, carried a loyal fanbase throughout his lengthy time with Uriah Heep, Blackfoot and as a much respected solo artist. One of those life long fans, Vladimir Emelin was lucky enough to have a chance meeting with his idol at Alicante Airport in early 2018. More than happy to pose for photos and chat to this chance acquaintance, Hensley and Emelin soon became friends and when the latter suggested that Hensley put some of the Russian writer’s poems to music, the veteran song writer was intrigued by the challenge. One song quickly became two and then two grew into an entire album, with My Book Of Answers being the result.

Enlisting the help of drummer Tommy Lopez, bassist Moises Cerezo, pianist and guitarist Izzy Cueto, Hensley painstakingly translated and, in places, adapted the Russian language poems into songs, while a socially distanced concert was also filmed (and included as a DVD that hasn’t been sent out for review). Hence, what began as a friendly meeting and exchanging of artistic ideas evolved into what we have here, an album that Hensley was incredibly excited about and proud of before his untimely death. Now, on a purely personal note, I must admit that I find some of Emelin’s lyrics to be painted on a little too thick, with points laboured and emotions used as a crutch rather than a platform from which wider ideas can be explored. However, Hensley was clearly inspired by them and the fusion of music and poetry does work incredibly well, with the keyboard master himself providing some of the most heartfelt vocals of his exalted career. With Cueto adding a distinctly Brian May like feel with the guitar work, and especially the solos, My Book Of Answers really does carry an air of majesty that ebbs and flows through a mix of classy rip roaring rockers, patiently considered piano led pieces and grandiose, almost classically inspired Rock that’s infused with sumptuous strings, although the real strength here is the journey from the album’s opening to its close. But highlights abound, with the pulsating “Lost", Heep-like “Right Here Right Now” and blues-roaring “Cold Sacrifice” among the strongest of the hard hitting offerings. From the more tender moments, “The Silent Scream” hits home through some cracking guitar work and sublime melodies, whereas “The Darkest Hour” thrives thanks to seriously crafted arrangements.

This probably isn’t the album that many expected from Ken Hensley, but from a man who never quite played by the rules, maybe that’s exactly as should be.


Track Listing
1. LOST (MY GUARDIAN)
2. RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW
3. THE COLD SACRIFICE
4. THE SILENT SCREAM
5. COVER GIRL
6. LIGHT THE FIRE (IN MY HEART)
7. STAND (CHASE THE BEAST AWAY)
8. THE DARKEST HOUR
9. SUDDENLY
CD BONUS TRACK
10. THE DARKEST HOUR (ALTERNATIVE VERSION)

Added: March 5th 2021
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Kn Hensley @ Cherry Red
Hits: 319
Language: english

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