Album Review: Henry’s Funeral Shoes – Smartphone Rabbit Hole

Henry’s Funeral Shoe – Smartphone Rabbit Hole

Words by Nick Jacques

This is the third album proper and a Popped Music debut for the Clifford Brothers AKA Henry’s Funeral Shoe. They hail from South Wales and if you didn’t know this, then Wales might not be the first place you’d guess. In fact, this duo has built up and developed their sound so much over the three releases that they command it with a reassuring ease.

Singer Aled Clifford has a floral history having had the pleasure of playing alongside some of the finest in the rock business e.g. KISS, to being taught how to play the guitar by one of Van Morrison’s long-time collaborators. His brother also has a plenitude of experience from playing in several bands over the years which led to the decision to join forces in 2009. It is clear to hear they have been working away in the subsequent years at perfecting their sound. And if it’s pounding blues rock that you’re after then look no further as this will shake and stir your soul!

Such is the way in which Henry’s Funeral Shoe go about their business, I can imagine Seasick Steve hearing them for the first time and tossing aside his sick bag and shimmying over to the dance floor like he was re-born. This is a stamp of approval to show that rock music still matters and will always matter. This is particularly emphasised on High Shoulders Everywhere where razor slide guitar licks and whacking symbols collide to deliver a cool killer blow to the listener’s ears.

The fist pumping anthem of Everybody Says Hi sets the Henry’s Funeral Shoe stall out in imposing fashion with infectious hooks and this continues to rumble on through the album. However, their sound is not entirely smothered in bluesy rock riffs – plenty of room is given on Firing Line for wind and brass to make their presence felt and in doing so adds another dimension to their shape. In addition, harmonies and a smattering of woodwind complement each other nicely on Right Time which is quite a detour before it gets back on track with Quick As A Hiccup which carries on with a similar motif for most of the album.

Title track Smartphone Rabbit Hole is another thumper with its sick guitar and typhoon drum patterns cascading down the ear. Most of these tracks, if not all of them, clock in under 4 minutes each and this keeps the feel and groove of the album flowing along in a compelling fashion. Yet Henry’s Funeral Shoe do have a tendency to flirt with the odd harmony and the more emotive side of their sound. On the closer Ball And Chain, sombre and contemplative strings fill a void as the album closes. This is further proof that they have depth in the sound they’re projecting.

The production really hits home throughout; lively, crisp and unleashed, this combines to show off a band with a potency that they’re not afraid to throw in your face. The production lets the music breathe and sounds fresh as a result of it. You can hear the yearning and the willingness to break out and re-ignite blues-rock!

Other acts with a similar disposition like Saint Agnes and The Pearl Harts are helping to re-mould the genre and bring it back to the masses and Henry’s Funeral Shoe is definitely another name to add to the canon.

Listen to Smartphone Rabbit Hole here:

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