It was just a few months ago that SoundThread Music Blog premiered the stunning new video and single ("Received In Me") from Leeds-based singer-songwriter and guitarist Henry Batemen. We caught up with Henry to have a listen and talk about his anticipated, forthcoming second album, Throwing & Catching, which is scheduled to be released on November 21.
Throwing & Catching is Henry's impressive follow-up to his 2015 debut album, Take A Form, and includes new compositions, as well as a few one-off singles that have been released in the interim. Recorded during his first two years at Leeds College of Music, along with his band and a collection of additional musicians, Throwing & Catching was produced by Burnley-based musician/producer Tim Goddard, who also mixed and mastered the album.
Throwing & Catching album artwork, designed by Paul Brough
SoundThread recently caught up with Henry to talk about the new album, and inspiration behind several of the album's tracks. To start with, the album's title takes its inspiration from Henry's reading of the late Nick Drake biography, Deeper than the Darkest Light, by Trevor Dunn. Henry explains, "I became completely consumed by Drake’s story; how he tied his entire self worth to his artistic success, and when he was unable to achieve that, how he fell into such an isolated and hopeless place that he ended his life. There’s something so powerful in that image of someone with so much to offer, showing it to others and those ‘others’ simply turning their faces away. It really resonated with me at a point in my life when I was preparing to go off to music college - with this intangible dream of becoming a songwriter, unsure of whether I would be accepted. As a result, I think I found myself with a heightened sense of the signals we ‘throw’ and ‘catch’ to each other. Increasingly, I found myself noticing people’s struggles for acceptance, and their joy when when they find it. I ended up writing 60 or 70 songs on this theme for an album that became called Throwing & Catching. I’ve narrowed them down to the eight that best form the album that I want to make, with two bonus tracks."
The flow of the new album is organized along the 'throwing' and 'catching' themes as Henry explains: "The first part of the album deals with people sending their signals out; the 'throwing'. The second half of the album deals with how we receive signals, and is a bit brighter; the 'catching'."
The 'throwing' theme of the album embarks with the atmospheric, intricate and stunning "Shoud I?" - one of my favorite tracks. Henry explains, "The title 'Should I?' had been in my head for a while as something that really expressed a pure anxiety. I got thinking about two characteristics in a person that could be really detrimental if mixed together - one of which is an inability to communicate, call it shyness or awkwardness, and the other is strong base instincts. I became really interested in the line between morality and instinct, and how it might get blurred in certain people. This song, for me, was all about pinpointing a mood, and expressing that as intensely as I could. I guess, in a way, all songwriting is like that."
HENRY BATEMAN "Should I?" (Official Video)
Regarding the recording of "Should I?", Henry elaborates, "One of my favourite things about this track was recording the choir. I wrote out a choral arrangement in five part harmony, got seven mates into a studio to sing it each part together, and thengot them to double each part. So the choir on 'Should I?' is actually made up of 70 voices. There's something amazing about using a choir where you might put a synthesizer or something - especially when the voices you use don't belong to people who might usually call themselves 'singers'. You get this amazingly raw, human sound, that - in the case of this song - really helps to express the whole mood of longing and anxiety."
Additional standout tracks in the 'throwing' theme include the heartfelt "Amelia" (a song about a little girl trying to make sense of Nazi Germany, her innocence spilling out over the Third Reich's streets) and the touching "Ready or Not" (telling the story of a grandfather reaching down to his grandson from heaven).
The 'catching' theme is probably best exemplified by Henry's recent single, "Received in Me." He notes, "the song is about letting someone know that you care about them, after they've died - wanting to tie up all those unsaid things."
The last track on the album (prior to the two bonus tracks) is the lovely "For You," on which Henry performs a duet with fellow musician Duncan Abbott. With moving melody and touching harmonies, this track is the perfect ending to Throwing & Catching. Henry remarks, "Duncan is a wonderful songwriter and performer in his own right - and his voice is perfect in this song; it's the exact character that I was trying to get across. I love his voice." Henry points out that "For You" is the thematic opposite to the Throwing & Catching's opening track: "'Should I?' is all about longing for acceptance and not finding it. 'For You' is about longing for it, and then finding it - and the joy that it brings. The narrative of this one is quite complex. It's about two types of unrequited love, and how perhaps, together - they can both be reciprocated. I was really interested in the idea that a 'God' has created us and loves us, but we turn our faces away from him - an idea that runs through most religions. So this song has a 'God' talking to a guy saying 'why don't you love me?', whilst that guy is talking to a woman he's been in love with for years, but never told, saying 'why don't you love me?'. Then he realises that if he loves God, it will open him up to be able to tell that woman he loves her. I'm not sure the real world works like that but it's a nice idea. It's actually the narrative of the Jim Carrey film 'Bruce Almighty' but I realised that afterwards."
SoundThread is delighted to present a first listen to "For You" with the premiere of this stunning track.
Throwing & Catching is scheduled for official release on November 21. You can visit Henry's official website for physical and digital pre-orders of the album.