Since the turn of the century, Doug Henthorn has had his hands full with singing, songwriting, guitar playing, and production. After disbanding the Healing Sixes, which he started with guitar legend Joe Bonamassa, and subsequent tours with Joe B. and others, like Beth Hart, John Hiatt, and Jason Bonham, Henthorn has embarked on a solo career. Henthorn has toured the U.S. and Asian, and his second solo album, The LLC, came out earlier this year. The LLC is an alternative blues album complete with lyricism and guitar playing worthy of the album’s dedication to the great blues rock bands of the 1970s.
The LLC opens with the clattering of cowbell and Henthorn’s rhythmic grunts on “Walk.” The song goes into a choppy guitar riff and suppressed vocals that reference Z.Z. Top’s blues interpretations. “Walk” livens its pace at the chorus, jumping around with funky instrumentation, before diving back into a deep, soulful guitar solo that maintains the grittiness of the earlier riffs. The guitar is featured again during the outro, over which Henthorn whoops and hollers to the fading beat. “Synesthesia,” another powerhouse of a song, is introduced by Wade Parish’s pounding drums and the bumping bass of Tim Fuller, which both drive the song under the fuzzy guitar and strong suppressed vocals. Throughout The LLC, the Henthorn’s voice and his guitar, paired with that of Travis Feaster, give a full, enthralling sound. “Synesthesia” provides one of the album’s best guitar solos, which sounds as if it is straight off an AC/DC record.
The songs leading into the powerful “Damn Nearly Nothing” take the listener through bluesy riffs, pitter-patter drums, and groaning bass. But “Damn Nearly Nothing,” is a beast unlike any other on the album. Henthorn slows the pace and all of the instruments reverberate through space. Each musician’s playing is in unison and encompasses a passionate yet serious sound. The song picks up pace and intensity during the chorus and, matching the dark sound that he has created, Henthorn addresses the downward spiral of drug abuse, which is a common theme throughout the album.
The LLC re-energizes with “Panhandler.” Henthorn and Feaster trade deep, feedback laden and crisp riffs, which emulate the true roots of blues music. They work together with Parish, as his drums crash. “Panhandler” and “Downfield” feature impressive guitar solos, and the former features the only harmonica on the album, a treat that leaves the listener craving more. In “Downfield” Henthorn let’s out a Ronnie Van Zant yell, a similarity that is also evident on “Sunday Cookout” and, later, on “Last Time.” “Sunday Cookout” lightens the mood of the album, shedding the themes of drugs and depression, and, in the well-crafted chorus, Henthorn discusses feeling “like a millionaire,” when he’s “on his feet on Sunday morning.” In addition to the one instance of harmonica, there is only one slide solo on The LLC, on its last song, “Last Time.” There are moments throughout the album where Henthorn stubbornly commits to a particular sound, and some monotony could have been broken up by sprinkling in those uniquely bluesy sounds like the harmonica or the slide. The album ends with Henthorn’s hoots and hollers as the band jams together and abruptly cuts.
Doug Henthorn’s second solo album The LLC proves that he is taking his solo career seriously. Though he focuses much of his energy on production and helping his associated acts create their albums, he has a built a powerful piece of his own, in which Henthorn puts great care into his lyrics and the accompanying instrumentation. Listeners will be eager to hear more from the jack of all trades.
The Review: 7.5/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Damn Nearly Nothing
– Sunday Cookout
The Big Hit
– Damn Nearly Nothing
Review by Spencer Rubin