Michael Hensley – Fire Behind Me

Michael Hensley – Fire Behind Me / 2007 Self / 12 Tracks / http://www.michael-hensley.com /

“This Machine” is the first track on “Fire Behind Me”, and it shows Hensley as a purveyor of dance music. Specifically, the track is supported by hints of Pet Shop Boys, Erasure, and Depeche Mode. Besides being influenced by these earlier dance acts, Hensley’s music on “Fire Behind Me”  is imbued with a current and fresh re-interpretation of what it means to be a dance artist. “Walk In” brings the focus to the vocals on the track, but keeps the overall dance framework. The instrumentation on the track is much more tied to the earlier style of dance music, so much so that it feels like some of Peter Gabriel’s work off of “So”.

At no point do these influences overshadow the unique sound and styling of Hensley; the momentum garnered by the end of “Walk In” is considerable, and allows Hensley to move easily to “Take Me Away”. “Take Me Away” is an atmospheric openness that is most influenced by “Very”-era Pet Shop Boys, something that is even present in the softly-spoken and quiet vocals that gradually build into a substantive force on the track. Each track shows a little bit more of who Hensley is and why exactly he used this format to express his message. A song like “Everyone Wants to Feel Something” links the aforementioned Pet Shop Boys with a little of the instrumental sound of an Aphex Twin, showing a very complex and expressive side to Hensley that may not be as visible during earlier tracks of “Fire Behind Me”.

“Never Loved Me” moves back a few steps from the darkness of “Everyone Wants to Feel Something”. “Never Loved Me” should be construed as the disc’s first single. The catchy vocals and general applicability to a wider subset of fans (who honestly has not felt that they have been spurned by a lover?) will undoubtedly set this track on a path towards the top of the dance charts. Subsequent tracks like “Take A Hint” provide different styles and sounds for listeners, to the point that there seems by a track like “The Wrong Truth” no particular place left for Hensley to go. The great thing about “Fire Behind Me” is that Hensley does not seem weak in any of these genre-bending endeavors. I have no doubt that his career will be a long and fruitful one.

Top Tracks: Take Me Away, Totally Gone

Rating: 6.8/10

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Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University. I have been the editor at NeuFutur / neufutur.com since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

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