On Under the Yellow Moon, it's unclear if John Henry & the Engine send us their greetings from Asbury Park, New Jersey, or Columbia, Missouri. The quartet is so steeped in Springsteenisms — piano-led epics, small-town heartbreaks and a heavy reliance on American rock & soul — that it sometimes feels that a Clarence Clemons sax solo is hiding behind every corner. Of course, you could pick worse songwriters than Bruce to mimic, and lead singer and guitarist John Henry brings enough of his own verve and style to keep him from sounding like a tribute act. His voice works its ragged, out-of-breath charm across these ten tracks, moving from bluesy, drawn-out stompers like opening cut "Lightning City Blues" to full-on barnburners like "Sweetness Wind." Keyboardist Wes Wingate (formerly of Columbia's beloved Doxies) drives many of these songs with soulful Hammond organ flourishes and glistening piano lines, as on the dramatic, unadorned "The Wind and the Rain." Like the similarly named Jon Hardy & the Public, Henry and company bring back a big-hearted bar-band style that, when done right, sounds timeless.
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