Ernie Hendricksen - Down The Road

Down the Road is an album that would be easy to dismiss because, if you’re not careful, it can completely wash over you. It’s the type of album that I hate to review because it’s all very nice and pleasant, but that’s it. It’s a slow tempo country album and it sounds exactly like you probably think it does. It’s obviously a labour of love for young Ernie – 14 tracks is no half measure – but I just wish it really sounded like it. It’s impeccably made and even lavishly packaged, but hiring a bunch of talented session musicians can be both the best thing that you can do and the worst. The musicians here play everything beautifully, but there’s no real spark or passion to the playing. It just all sounds so professional. At times it sounds like everyone’s just going through the motions and you have to throw the blame for that at Ernie himself. The problem is I think he’s tried to make everything sound as beautiful and clean as possible, when perhaps a bit of roughness would have faired better.


 


If I’m sounding a bit harsh here, then it’s because I feel like I’m missing something. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this album, nothing at all. There’s just nothing truly great about it either. It’s an album that’s very easy to like and respect, but it’s incredibly hard to love.


 


Down the Road is beautifully played throughout and, although he sounds like he’s about to cry a little too often for my liking, young Ernie has a good voice too but I’ve found myself feeling completely disassociated from it, which is a real shame because there are some really nice things going on here. I do like Bad Mixed Up Woman because it’s the one track where everyone sounds like they’re having fun playing it, but it’s marooned on an island in a vast lake of niceness and it may be too much hard work to get to for most people.


 


In the end, if you feel like a bit of country wistfulness, then by all means give this a shot, just don’t expect to fall in love with it. Down The Road is a nice album, an incredibly nice album. So nice in fact, young Ernie could well be the next James Taylor, but I’ll leave you to decide whether that’s a good thing or not.


 


Words: Damian Leslie