Henry Wagons must have watched a few too many Las Vegas television specials growing up. How else would the Australian songwriter developed a fascination with the showmanship of Tom Jones and Elvis? Add to the mix (literally) Wagons’ obsession with vintage reverb sounds like the songs of Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra, and you end up with a record full of noir duets that is both retro and ethereal–without becoming too trippy.
Henry Wagons’ band, Wagons, reached Australian success, and roots music first-adopters may have heard either Wagons’ tune “Willie Nelson” or “I Blew It.” His album of duets with a variety of beautiful voices, Expecting Company, is his first with a wide-scale American release. Sonicly, this record maintains the over-the-top vibe of much of his songwriting, but the contrast with gorgeous singing from Jenn Grant, Sophia Brous, and Alison Mosshart (among others) brings this record to a new plane.
Wagons’ theatrics on stage and expansive recordings mirror his personality, as well. He is quite entertaining to interview, regaling tales of his cooking skills, his vision for music videos (some of which are extremely conceptual), and his love for ELO, the Electric Light Orchestra. While some people might tell these tales on themselves for the amusement alone, Wagons manages to share his genuine passion for these over-the-top antics, reflecting his love for them, not sarcasm, snark, nor superiority. Henry Wagons repeatedly mentions how thankful and grateful he is for the success he has had, in spite of his drive to fulfill his “egomaniacal vision.” Just another self-deprecating line from Wagons himself!
- Henry Wagons “Expecting Company?” “I’m In Love with Mary Magdalene,” “Give Things a Chance,” “Marylou Two”
- Van Halen Diver Down “Big Bad Bill (Is Sweet William Now)”
- Elvis Presley Elvis: The ’68 Comeback Special (Three-Disc Deluxe Edition) “Hurt”
- Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood Nancy & Lee 3 “Barricades and Brickwalls”
- Wagons Rumble, Shake And Tumble “I Blew It”
- The Beatles Please Please Me “Love Me Do”
- Those Darlins Screws Get Loose “Screws Get Loose”
- Justin Townes Earle The Good Life “The Good Life”
Check out some live video of Henry Wagons as a trio in Atlanta recently, as captured by Atlanta Music Examiner: