Henry Wagons

Expecting Company?

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As the leader of the Australian Americana band the Wagons, Henry Wagons always has romanticized the American South and West, but on his solo EP debut Expecting Company? he gets to indulge himself in a way he never has before: he gets to create a roundabout tribute to Lee Hazlewood's hazy, lazy cinematic dreamscapes of the American West. All but one of the seven songs on this EP are duets and only one is with a male. That would be "I Still Can't Find Her," a song co-written and sung with Go-Between Robert Forster, but the pair still manage to create a dust-speckled widescreen vista on their collaboration, one that fits neatly next to the five female duets here. Whether Wagons is singing with the Kills' Alison Mosshart, Jenn Grant, Patience Hodgson, or Sophia Brous, Expecting Company? conjures the ghost of Lee Hazlewood & Nancy Sinatra, particularly the narcotic crawl of "Some Velvet Morning," but the nifty trick he pulls off here is that he doesn't adhere too closely to the original blueprint. This is slyly spare and economical in its texture, using very little to suggest a lot, and he's wild enough to kick up the tempo when necessary ("A Hangman's Work Is Never Done," where he winds up sounding more Nick Cave than Johnny Cash). The Wagons have a strong track record of their own but there's something special to Expecting Company?; when paired with other singers, the overarching vision of Henry Wagons stands out clearer than it ever has.

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