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Henry Wagons

Expecting Company – 2013 (Spunk)

Reviewed by Brian Baker

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CDs by Henry Wagons

North American audiences only recently became acquainted with the visceral outlaw country delights of Wagons when the band's sixth album, "Rumble Shake & Tumble," served as the Australian outfit's debut in our hemisphere in 2011. As the band readies itself for another brain-melting assault on American audiences, darkly charismatic frontman Henry Wagons drops his debut solo album with the seven-track mini album, "Expecting Company?"

Multi-instrumentalist Wagons wrote the songs on "Expecting Company?" while under the adverse effects of a raging fever and a nasty hand wound from an exploding light bulb. In his altered consciousness, Wagons imagined other voices within these new songs so once he was committed to crafting them in a solo context, he invited a diverse cast of vocalists to duet with him on six of the album's tracks; Alison Mossheart (The Kills, Dead Weather), Robert Forster (The Go-Betweens), Patience Hodgson (the Grates) and singer/songwriters Jenn Grant, Sophia Brous and Gossling.

On "Expecting Company?," Wagons exudes a sonic power that approximates the passionate countrypolitan expanse of Lee Hazelwood and the brooding noirish rock of Nick Cave, a vibe that is heightened by his duet partners, particularly on the galloping Unwelcome Company with Mossheart, the traditional country lope of Give Things a Chance to Mend with Grant and the rumbling, noisy menace of A Hangman's Work is Never Done with Hodgson. "Expecting Company?" is brilliant enough to wish there was more than just 23 minutes of it and harrowing enough to be satisfied with its gripping 7 tracks.