Review by Paul Monkhouse for MPM
It’s rather fitting that the last album of Ken Hensley’s stellar career has the most unusual genesis, this most talented of musicians yet again pushing his own limits.
It’s also his most poignant, at times the lyrics unbearably foreshadowing someone looking at the biggest battle of their life.
Ken Hensley had been a bonafide rock star for over fifty years, most famously in Uriah Heep for a golden decade, a three-year stint with Southern Rockers Blackfoot as well as time spent with W.A.S.P., Cinderella and many others, along with a very successful solo career.
Despite all this, he always had time for the fans and it was a chance meeting with one of them at an airport in Spain that built a relationship that was to give birth to ‘My Book of Answers’.
With music set to the translated poems of Russian super fan Vladimir Emelin, ‘My Book of Answers’ brings together hard rock, blues, AOR and balladry in one perfect and classy whole.
From the widescreen and dusty highway-song rock of opener ‘Lost’ onwards you’re taken on a sublime journey that really acts as travelogue and a high watermark of what’s possible when two like minded individuals have the shared language of music to draw from.
‘Right Here, Right Now’ dips its toes into more polished and propulsively melodic waters, the keyboards giving it a real FM radio feel as the guitars ring out in perfect harmony, the extended solo on the fade giving the knock-out punch.
That six-string mastery heralds the beginning of the show stopping, atmospheric rocker ‘Cold Sacrifice’ and it’s this great mix of the instrumentation along with Hensley’s unique and soulful vocals that bring the words to life perfectly.
Whilst rocking out on ‘Silent Scream’ or pouring out his heart on the tender ballads ‘Cover Girl’ and ‘Light the Fire in My Heart’ there’s always a deep spirituality at work here that rather than bombarding you with bluster or manipulation, washes over the listener in a gentle, but undeniable wave.
It’s hard to pinpoint a highlight of the album, the quality so uniformly high, but ‘Stand’ is a big and glorious gospel-tinged wonder that makes you feel ten feet taller and ‘Suddenly’ is achingly beautiful and heartbreaking, the guitar work reminiscent of George Harrison.
With two versions, including one bonus acoustic take, of the shimmering ‘The Darkest Hour’ completing the ten songs herein, ‘My Book of Answers’ is a fitting tribute to Hensley and closes this last chapter of his remarkable career.
Taken away from the world last year by a sudden, short illness this final release may be the most perfect thing he ever recorded and stands as a mark of the man’s soul and the eternal legacy he leaves us with.
Order ‘My Book Of Answers’ here 👉 http://cherryred.co/KenHensley