For half a decade, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Henry Paul has marked the music world with his refined craft. His upcoming release, Just About Right: Live From Atlanta, reunites Paul with a longtime creative cohort, Dave Robbins, under their Platinum-selling country music group BlackHawk.
Joined by their original backing band, Bobby Huff (percussion) and Dale Oliver (lead guitar), Paul and Robbins pay tribute to their counterpart, the late Van Stephenson, chronicling their career with smooth, brotherlike harmonies. The twenty-two track concept-album hits more than the highlights. Due on November 13, Just About Right: Live From Atlanta strips BlackHawk’s extensive catalog down to its rawest form.
Ahead of this double-sided release, BlackHawk premieres 1997’s deep-cut, “Dances With Her Shadow.”
Paul portrays the selection as “a very poignant sort of lyric about this woman or lady that had this fast-moving character that came into her life and made her feel good and then disappeared. It’s a shopworn storyline, but it has a certain romantic appeal.”
Paul compared its allure to Robert James Waller’s Bridges of Madison County.
“I sat in bed reading that book and tears,” he admits. “That book just rattled my cage to the core. It can do that if there’s a person in your life that fits the story. I just love these faded dreams and photographs all scattered on the floor.”
“Dances With Her Shadow” was initially written as an acoustic song, so it seamlessly fills into the collection. The melancholy vocals flatter the band, displaying their traditionalist form with which they timelessly approach music.
Along with “One More Heartache” and “Spirit Dancer,” “Dances with Her Shadow” is high on the band’s list of personal favorites.
“Songs like these are the driving force for a project like this,” says Paul. “Otherwise, what’s the point of doing ‘Goodbye Says It All’ and ‘Every Once In A While’ for the fifteenth time?”
“Selfishly, it helps us establish an artistic identity that transcends the hit-driven, sort of shallow musical pond that Nashville is,” Paul continues about the carefully curated record. “And it sets BlackHawk apart from our contemporaries and puts us in a place that we would rather reside.”
The album was recorded live at Eddie’s Attic in 2017 and sat on a hard drive for two years before the time was right for delivery. Paul, who bounces back and forth between BlackHawk and his Southern roots-rock group, The Outlaws, maintains many ducks in orderly rows so that releases like these are possible.
The vetted musicians have a loaded arsenal of material that allows them to continue with the artistic agenda that serves their purpose as a band. This year, that purpose is to meet this moment for their audience without becoming opportunistic about the current climate.
“Going back and forth between those two brands, I’m always working to satisfy the fan base’s appetite for new music,” Paul explains. “And sometimes a double live record that touches down on music that people very rarely get to hear is just what the doctor ordered to fill that gap.”