American UK of Beyond the Pale (Paradigm Records) by PB

Born in Oklahoma but later moving to New York, Bruce Henderson’s second album follows 1997’s "The Wheels Roll". On finishing recording this album, Bruce was diagnosed with cancer. Its’ release was put off until he received treatment and was well enough to perform again. By this time however, his record company was no longer in business. It now eventually sees the light of day through Southbound Records. We should be glad it has for this is a marvellous album. This is excellent country-pop and maintains its’ extremely high standard both musically and lyrically throughout. Though I didn’t realise it at first, I was actually familiar with a couple of these songs, the brilliant "Speed Rack" and "Flatlands" both appeared on The Hangdogs "East of Yesterday" LP. With a sure, expressive voice pitched somewhere between Dylan and Vic Chesnutt, Bruce sings songs of small town life, lost love and drinking. Traditional country themes maybe and with lap steel, mandolin and banjo popping up here and there, perhaps musically too but it’s never derivative, it’s the quality of his lyrics that set it apart. Picking some of the best lyrics is difficult, as there are gems on most tracks. How about "I never loved another woman – but then again I don’t love you" from "Speed Rack" or "It’s hard to say I’m sorry, especially when I’m not" from the bonus track "Swimming Through The Ashes"? Really though, the whole album is a treat from start to finish.