The John Henrys Sweet As The Grain

There’s nothing overly spectacular about this Ottawa, ON quintet’s debut album but that’s precisely what makes it so instantly appealing. Their devotion to the classic Flying Burrito Brothers/Crazy Horse country rock approach is several cuts above most other young bands that naturally gravitate to that style, and when done right, still packs a punch. What seems most encouraging about the John Henrys is that all five members contribute to the songwriting, with front-man Rey Sabatin having only a slight advantage over the others. This adds a noticeable group unity to the performances and allows them to stretch their sound with touches of bluegrass ("Ain’t Gonna Drink No More”) and Sadies-esque garage rock ("Thought Yourself Lucky”). While Sweet As The Grain could have benefited from a more imaginative production, it certainly serves notice that the John Henrys are poised to become a force within the Canadian roots music scene. (9 LB)