Published March 11, 2005
Tender Steps Towards Grace
I must admit that I approached Tenderfoot’s debut with some caution even if the word on the street was mostly favourable. The first couple of songs I had heard before and the cover art made me wonder if Tenderfoot were maybe a bit too pretentious for their own good. But as the old saying goes, you can’t judge a book (or a CD for that matter) by its cover, so I still gave it the benefit of the doubt before pressing play…
My fears were somewhat confirmed when the overly melodramatic “Beautiful Son” opens the album but thankfully, the band manages to straighten the ship on a more upbeat country number titled….erm, “Country” and then sail effortlessly on course for the remainder of the album. That may not sound like a compliment but in this case it is, with the subtle melodies suiting Tenderfoot’s laidback approach. So if you’re still unclear, the ethereal and aptly titled Without Gravity actually surpassed my early expectations and certainly gets my recommendation as a nice alternative-country album for beginners.
The main reason for the “for beginners” tag is that it’s neither overly groundbreaking nor challenging and accessible enough to win over a few people unfamiliar with the genre. Jeff Buckley’s only album, Grace, is a huge reference point as well as the work of other usual suspects such as Nick Drake, Gram Parsons, Neil Young and Elliott Smith. With the backbone of Tenderfoot’s music being the influences of such great musicians, the quartet is obviously destined to pale in comparison but as debuts go, Without Gravity is certainly a promising one with its soft and sweet harmonies. The ingredients are certainly there and in Karl Henry, the band has an undeniably gifted vocalist who, much like the band itself, is only a step away from discovering his own unique voice.