Like Paul Kelly telling his stories through song, Tasmanian singer/songwriter Zac Henderson has crafted ten tracks of Aussie folk that just feels like home. Lay the Stones is full of warmth, character and cleverly worded anecdotes that force you to be slow and really sink in. Read on as we take a look at the record and as Zac takes us through his Top 5 Defining Albums.
The opening track In My Element sets the scene with a lone guitar and Henderson’s folksy Australian voice. With a time-passing whistle, bright xylophone, a Hammond organ and a background vocal rumble that’s reminiscent of Daddy Cool’s resident baritone Ross Hannaford, it’s a an uncomplicated yet thoroughly considered introduction to the rest of Lay the Stones.
Tin Shed really embraces the outback Australian scene. As Henderson sings of sleeping in a tin shed and the birds that ‘own this place‘ he cements his ability to tell stories that evoke clear images in the listener’s mind, as does the title track that follows.
Another stand-out is Drawing Blood, a completely unpretentious and melancholic track that is as equally painful as it is uplifting. I Haven’t Seen You In A Week is a bit more comedic – a real toe-tapping track that matches the fun and energy of The Cat Empire, while Easy to Please carries a Pete Murray-esque strumming style and continues the tongue-in-cheek Aussie twang.
The final two tracks, Long Enough and Stonewash, reinforce the polish and maturity in Henderson’s songwriting. A perfectly satisfying bookend to the album, an easy flowing harmonica, deep strings and the pluck of a guitar sees the album gently out.
Stream Lay the Stones below, and read on for Zac Henderson’s Top 5 Defining Albums:
Working on Lay The Stones as an album was one of the most exciting and involved musical experiences of my life so far. I managed to assemble a band of terrific musicians to play on the album and a brilliant producer who were all incredibly invested in the music. The environment in the studio was perfect; it felt like a lot of the time we were just goofing around, but we got a lot done and when we were playing, we were really playing.Zac Henderson
ZAC HENDERSON’S TOP 5 DEFINING ALBUMS
Rodriguez – Cold Fact
Along with a lot of music that has inspired me, Rodriguez’s music was introduced to me by my friend, Noah when I was about 14. He was always one of the artists we would sit and listen to and his songs always stuck with me. He was certainly a lyrical inspiration, I used to always busk ‘I Wonder’ and ‘Inner City Blues’ back in the day which would always draw in other Rodriguez fans. I was lucky enough to see him once in Melbourne and once in Tassie. A true Legend.
Leonard Cohen – Songs of Leonard Cohen
Songs of Leonard Cohen was the songwriters debut album and it hits strong everytime. Cohen is by far one of the worlds boldest, emotional and poetic musicians. This album holds so much sincerity and wisdom which I have been listening to in awe since buying a warped copy of it on vinyl years ago which was played until it was basically just crackles and pops. ‘So Long Marianne’ and ‘Suzanne’ are both arguably two of Cohen’s most popular tunes, and for good reason. The wordsmithing, mood and guitar playing Leonard brings with this album is really quite meditative and is certainly a journey to listen through.
Bob Dylan – Another Side of Bob Dylan
Bob couldn’t not make my list of favorite inspirational albums, the hard thing is which one makes the cut. Obviously there’s a lot of Dylans work and plenty of it is amazing music so its hard to narrow down as a lot of his music varies album to album. I have to go with ‘Another Side of Bob Dylan’ as I’ve always loved the starkness and strangeness of this album. It’s humorous, heartfelt and adventurous. It’s topical, nonsensical and over all a brilliant piece of work and time captured. Another Side is an album that shows the lack of limitation when it comes to Dylan’s songwriting. There are beautiful love songs, wacky elaborate tales and whimsical philosophies all throughout it and it’s all topped off with a ‘not giving a shit’ kind of attitude and I really like that. It’s always an entertaining listen to say the least.
Paul Kelly – Foggy Highway
I was given a copy of this album a long time ago, I hadn’t dived in to a lot of Paul’s music at the time and it sat on my Ipod classic for quite a few years. Come 2019 I was preparing to go on a tour with Katie Wilson across Australia stretching from Melbourne to Broome. For the trip I pulled out the old Ipod for the long drives on red roads with no reception, this is when it was Pauls time to shine. This album features a bluegrass band with a lot of PK classics re-written in a new style. The sound of this record and the stories it holds was perfect music for road tripping across the vast and beautiful country Australia is. Still to this day that music takes me to suns setting along wide open highways, deep forest camps and crocodile warning signs.
Van Morrison – Moondance
I first heard this album in 2016, I was driving with some friends and there was a huge storm going on. We pulled up on the waterfront as we couldn’t see anything out the windscreen because of hail and rain and the car was blowing all about all the while Van Morrison is pumping ‘Stoned Me’ out of the speakers of this little white station wagon. We realised then that the guy’s car in front of us was flat so we jumped his car then drove on through the night. I don’t really remember where we were going that night, but I do remember it being the first night I heard this album, and ever since it has been with me.
Posted by Rebecca Costanzo, Top 5 by Zac Henderson