The Henrys – Dark Dear Heart

• “Dark Dear Heart” set to a picture of the housing album cover.

9.6 “All-time classic Songwriter from Canada”

From their album “Puerto Angel” (Train Records TRAINREC-007) first released in Canada in 1994.

I snapped this one up as a result of doing a bit of research for yesterday’s post. In a 1999 interview for Chickfactor Magazine, Neko Case was asked: “What’s the last song that made you want to cry?”

A song by this woman Mary Margaret O’Hara who is one of the greatest singers of all-time: “Dark Dear Heart.” I’m shocked that you guys know who she is, nobody ever knows who she is. It was on this Henrys record. It’s fucking heartbreaking. She just has that lilty crying thing in her voice.

A little further research tells me that Morrissey (impressed by her 1988 album ‘Miss America’) was another to feel her power way back in 1990, when he brought her in to wail on “November Spawned A Monster”

I was massively intrigued by her album. I thought it so beautiful I suddenly realised I hadn’t in a decade heard someone singing because of deep-set personal neurosis, absolute need and desperation. You’d think she might fall apart at any second and become a pile of rags and bones onstage. For the first time in almost a decade I was ‘high’ — mentally really, really high. What kept coming back to me was ‘Horses’.

My featured song today certainly backs up the high praise received; on this ‘un she’s as sultry as Presley, has the poise of Cline, is broken like Sandoval and has all the purity of your ancient folk singer. “A national treasure” says Michael Stipe. All considered, it’s amazing her status is limited to cult.

For their part, the dexterous Henrys, a Toronto-based, predominantly instrumental group, treat Mary’s song with great respect. I think we’re hearing group leader Don Rooke play the kona, an acoustic Hawaiian guitar, and guest John Geggie traces acoustic bass lines with a lightness of touch that complements the tantalising whole. Great job all round.