Tim Hensley

Long Monday

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Singer, mandolin picker, and acoustic guitarist Tim Hensley has been a sideman for many country music and bluegrass stars including Ricky Skaggs, Patty Loveless, and Kenny Chesney, who helps out on this debut album by co-producing with an ear toward the traditional side of country music. The album is split between covers, traditional tunes, and Hensley originals that show a writer with great promise and deep faith. "Two Coats" is a subtle spiritual that likens salvation to a new winter coat; the dobro of Rob Ickes and Deanie Richardson's fiddle make the tune sound as warm and comfortable as the coat in the title. "Working on a Building" is based on a traditional Southern gospel hymn, and Hensley's stately reading imbues it with plenty of soul. "What a Sight to Behold" is a poignant portrayal of the death of a friend who sees the end as a bright new beginning. The song is a beautiful testament to true love and faith. "Shady Grove" shows the rowdy side of bluegrass with lightening-fast picking from David Talbot on banjo and Richardson on fiddle. The other uptempo tune, "Fox Run the Henhouse," is another song with a suggestion of spirituality -- don't expect to get to heaven if you make bad choices in life, but the message here is delivered with subtle country humor. Hensley's strength is as a ballad singer, and the diverse covers he chooses give him the opportunity to show his deep emotional connection to the material. "Dear Departed" is about lost love, a slow bluegrass tune full of aching pain magnified by Hensley's keening vocal. Rodney Crowell's "Ridin' Out the Storm" is the tale of a homeless man shivering on the streets of New York in a cardboard box who still retains his pride and enough knowledge to know that his path is the result of his own poor choices. Hensley closes arrangements with a series of wordless wails that echo like a lonesome winter wind. This promising debut shows Hensley infusing bluegrass, country, and singer/songwriter material with a high tenor imbued with a humble spirituality that should win him plenty of fans.

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