REVIEW: The Imaginaries is Sharp, Endearing, and True


The Imaginaries – Self Titled

Hailing from Oklahoma, the husband & wife duo known as The Imaginaries — Shane Henry (guitar/vocals) & Maggie McClure (keyboards/piano/vocals), possess a bright modern day Cowsills, by way of the Continual Drifters & Golden-Carrillo type showcase. It may sound popish at times but the harmonies, songs & presentation are loaded & uplifting. Weaved melodically well.

On cut 1 “Revival,” a pop-oriented spiritual (that’s certainly different) has an energetic lead guitar with hope & salvation enthusiasm. Their self-titled debut 10-cut CD The Imaginaries (Independent-Drops March 26) may have some cliches – “Walking on a Wire,” is a good tune but that title has been used to death.

The songs are indeed interesting subject-wise but deserve better attention to titles. Some people need to be hooked. Make them want to listen to the song before they hear a note.

“Thinkin’ ‘bout You,” is a driving positive acoustic-driven song with excellent voices. There’s nothing new here, much of what is sung about has been sung about before. Their sound is also not something revolutionary. However, their sincerity, charm & musicianship – that’s sharp, endearing & true. Shane’s voice & Maggie’s form a vocal unity that is refreshing.

The musicians that shape the songs are legendary Muscle Shoals “Swamper,” bassist David Hood (Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Paul Simon), Little Richard’s guitarist Kelvin Holly (Jason Isbell, Gregg Allman, Neil Young), bassist Shonna Tucker (Jason Isbell, Drive-By Truckers), keyboardist NC Thurman (Hank Williams Jr, Gregg Allman, Little Richard), & drummer Rob Humphreys (Leonard Cohen). In Oklahoma, with keyboardists Chad Copelin (Sufjan Stevens) & Dan Walker (Heart).

On “Geronimo” & “Enough of You,” the duo shows their teeth with two resplendent rockers. “Geronimo,” explores perseverance & determination. Shane’s guitar is impressively bluesy, crisp & the singing is penetrating. What more can you ask for? What could’ve been cheesy, novelty-oriented is strong, has cohesion & a precise punch.

While not as sizzling yet as the duo of Golden-Carrillo, Shane & Maggie have that potential & it can be heard in their more distinctive songs. They may need to just sharpen their lyrical approach a little to draw out more compelling, gripping tales — toughen their fiber. Right now, their tunes are quite good, in an elementary manner, but they are memorable. But for how long?

“Blue Sky” shows a resourceful middle-of-the-road style that could easily be reinterpreted by jazz vocalists. This is impressive.

The final cut “You Remind Me” drops back beautifully to expose Maggie’s almost Appalachian folk roots near Iris DeMent tradition & she does an admirable job with a honey-sweet voice. Shane shadows her vocal with expertise. This a good duo. Excellent work. One of the best tracks on the CD.

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