Katie Henry is on her way. The New Jersey songwriter might have started out banging on doors, braving New York’s bearpit blues clubs, playing piano until her fingers bled, and winning over the city one show at a time. But lately, the multi-instrumentalist has raced through career milestones at a rocket pace.
There was her Blues Blast and IBMA-nominated 2018 debut album, High Road. Her international breakout on Ruf's 2022 Blues Caravan Revue. Her starburst of media acclaim, including Henry Yates of Classic Rock, NME, and The Guardian, saluted "a runaway talent you need to keep up with."
Now, with the release of her second album, On My Way, Katie has found another gear. Whether slinging her trusty Gibson SG, hammering the keys, or hollering up a storm, these ten original songs, co-written with bassist and slide-guitar maestro Antar Goodwin, announced her as an alchemist who creates gemstones from the base metals of American roots.
"There's a great range of songs on this album," Katie reflects. "You get a sense of the things I've been going through, the fights I've won, the fights I've lost, and the determination needed to continue. All wrapped in a rock and roots package."
The story goes that at one early show, a fan astutely observed: "It's like she's got John Lee Hooker in her pocket!" Scratch this young artist, and you'll find an old soul. Fingering her first piano chords, aged six, and scrawling early songs in the back of her school notebooks, Katie was the heart of singalongs at her family home in New Jersey.
With fiery guitar chops and natural charisma, she was soon a New York City jam scene favorite. Those who were there, remember songs of many genres, blues, rock, R&B, funk, pop, soul, and country, and her stage presence evoked Bonnie Raitt and Janis Joplin at their most magnetic.
And while “High Road” was the introductory handshake, On My Way is the profoundly personal second album on which Katie gives you her beat-up heart. It all started in May 2021, when Brooklyn's Degraw Sound opened its doors to Katie and producer/guitarist Ben Rice. The crack lineup of Goodwin, Kurt Thum (piano/organ,) and Greg Wieczorek (drums/percussion,) plus British harp ace Giles Robson.
"We recorded the album live during the pandemic," reflects Katie, "and it was so fun to be able to record in a room with people after feeling isolated for such a long time. The majority of the album was laid down live, and I love that feeling. It's like capturing lightning in a bottle."
Katie isn't afraid to flex her muscles: try the snakey groove and stinger guitar lick of the stomp-blues title track. But "Got Me Good" has the tough strut and chicken-scratch solo, while "Bury You" and "Too Long," fuse musical punch with emotional vulnerability. “Bury You is about putting the past to rest so you can live into your future,” explains Katie. “Too Long is about the heavy weight of lies and the toll that they take on us if we don’t let them go.”
With On My Way, Katie Henry's eyes are firmly on the horizon. "Catch me if you can," she sings on the closing track of the same name, and it's not just a challenge to her peers but an invitation to her growing army of fans as she forges ahead. "A lot of these songs are about letting go," she considers. "And how scary, but ultimately liberating, it can be…."