In the last few months, Australian group Steve Hensby Band released their highly-praised new concept album 'It's A Dry Heat Ayyyye!, featuring the standout smash 'Righteous St'.
With such a fun and fresh sound, 'Righteous St' quickly became one of our most beloved new favourites. Filled with smooth soulful textures and a bright atmosphere around it, we quickly realised we needed to find out more behind what inspired this new release.
So we sat down with the head honcho himself Steve Hensby to find out what five songs he loves and have inspired him over the years.
Alice Clark – Never Did I Stop Loving You
Aretha Franklin is one of my favourite artists and singers but I thought I’d go with someone a little less known. The song is an absolute belter and the band is cooking!!! I found this album when we were touring in the UK and bought it without hearing any of the songs, I’m very glad that I did. My understanding of Alice is that she recorded a collection of songs in the late 60’s early 70’s and had a bit of success before getting somewhat lost in history. Through the sampling of DJ’s in the 90’s her music and the records were given a new life and people rediscovered her. It’s quite interesting the journeys that some songs/artists/albums go on over the course of half a century!
Stevie Wonder – Love’s In Need Of Love Today
Every Stevie song could be on this top list, the reason I choose this one is because it is the start of ‘Songs In The Key Of Life’, I love the album’s complexity, diversity and incredible grooves. The collection of songs on this record really is something to marvel at and it is a showcase of one of the most wonderful musicians the world has ever seen, at top of their game. The guest appearances on the album are very lovely as well – a special mention must go out to Mike Sembello for his guitar lines in ‘Contusion’. Lyrically the album is very heartfelt and touched on a lot of issues that not every artist in Stevie’s position would dive into – he played a big part in getting a national holiday for MLK. I liken this to John Lennon who was trying to do something of worth with his celebrity status.
The Beatles – Dear Prudence
Definitely my favourite band – they changed the world. Every album is incredible and they covered so many styles moving from strength to strength. The reason I chose this song is for the lesson in musical arrangement it provides. Essentially the song is a fingerpicking guitar part with vocals over the top, but what George Martin and The Beatles have done is placed parts over the top that can be likened to a classical orchestration. You have Paul playing drums for majority of the song with Ringo at the end, some gorgeous counterpoint guitar lines from George, a great bassline, some harmonies that last for an eternity and a piano part that comes in for a few bars at the songs climax before dropping back to the soloed acoustic guitar.
The Kinks - Autumn Almanac
I adore Ray Davies songwriting. He can come up with a simple concept in such a glorious and clever manner all the while maintaining a witty sense of humour. ‘Autumn Almanac’ goes through so many harmonic shifts that is worthy of being likened to a jazz song, and Ray is just singing about his daily life which could potentially be mundane lyrically, yet he turns it into poetry. He likes writing about characters which is something I’ve definitely taken onboard, I certainly wouldn’t want to write about myself in every song and it’s fun to come up with different concepts and scenarios as a way to tell a story.
Madison Cunningham – In From Japan
There are so many artists that I could put as song 5 – Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Bob Dylan, MOTOWN!!! But I thought I’d go for someone brand new who has just released an incredible album at the age of 25 (I think?). ‘In From Japan’ blew my head off – the song, the arrangement, the vocal delivery, everything. You can hear The Beatles and Rufus Wainwright influences whilst still maintaining her own vibe. I’m quite a non-tech type person when it comes to albums and it’s quite comforting to know that there are artists out there like Madison that can really sing without the use of vocal technology and write beautiful heartfelt songs. You have to mention her guitar playing as well – baritone guitar styling with a whole load of crunchy chords!
Steve Hensby Band's latest single 'Righteous St' is available to stream now. Check out its vibrant new video below.