Henoch Townley,
Reaching Point
(Inukshuk, 2001)

Henoch Townley is a young Native Canadian from the northern regions of Canada who plays guitar and sings the songs he writes. The northern music from the land of the midnight sun is just beginning to be more widely available as its musicians take advantage of new technologies that ignore distance and capture the beautiful sounds of a culture few people are even aware of.

Granted, Townley with his English songs and strong, young voice does not have many traditional sounds on this CD. However, as nontraditional as it is, the music is definitely of northern flavour. Much in the words and music expresses the northern experience.

I was not sure what to expect so this was a pleasant surprise. The lyrics are enchanting, the drum beats mesmerizing, and I enjoy the timbre of Townley's provocative voice. Slow pacing makes the CD intoxicating at times, and never boring. The music cruises underneath Townley's lyrics and his voice prolongs the experience while taking you on a musical odyssey.

In particular, I think Townley tries to offer a celebration, an awareness of life and the beauty of the north. He launches eager reminders to recognize the past while accepting that southern influences will create a new future for the people of these northern climes.

In one of the faster tracks, called "The Curious Mind," there's an abstract feeling that this one's not quite finished. It doesn't have the finesse of the other cuts, but I think it could. Obviously, this young artist's strength is in his poetic lyrics and his powerful, luxurious voice that knocks you off your perch even as it caresses you.

In the context of this CD, the effects of wind and water are subtle while the climatic voice of the north is developed in the energy and flair of the musicians. Not so unusual is the great guitar playing, and bass, piano and drums. The north has always been known for entertaining music at gatherings and local festivities. It's wonderful to see the work of artists like Townley become available for potential fans. Be encouraged to try this one, it's a keeper.

[ by Virginia MacIsaac ]
Rambles: 5 October 2002

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