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Henry Gross sweetly dishes out "prime quality" new music

Gross' latest LP, titled 'In My Own Sweet Time,' boasts a full 20 songs, every one of which is of prime quality with not a single offering that’s noticeably below par in the entire bunch.

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Henry Gross_c

HENRY GROSS
IN MY OWN SWEET TIME

Zelda Records (CD)

4 Stars

For those who remember him solely as the singer and songwriter of the aural tearjerker “Shannon,” an ode to a dearly departed dog that hit the upper reaches of the pop charts some 45 years ago, it’s likely they’d consider Henry Gross as little more than a one-hit wonder. That’s a shame really, given the fact he’s continued to record and release albums at a prolific rate ever since.

His latest LP, ironically titled In My Own Sweet Time, proves the point. It boasts a full 20 songs, every one of which is of prime quality with not a single offering that’s noticeably below par in the entire bunch. Each is of prime radio-ready quality, with the kind of effusive hooks and resounding refrains that all but ensure instant engagement. While it’s hard to pick out any particular tracks that stand out above all others, “Breakfast at Epiphany’s,” “In My Own Sweet Time,” “Veronica Lake” and “If You Wanna Live In My Heart” all offer irrepressible examples of Gross’ ability to crank up a ready riff and translate any given melody as a celebratory stance. Having gotten his start with the oldies outfit Sha Na Na, it’s no surprise that a singular shuffle like “Big Guitar,” a ready rocker such as “Nice Place” or the basic blues of “Fool To Leave You” would fit so naturally into his repertoire, but it’s the catchy choruses that are emblazoned in songs such as “Think I’m Lovin’ You Baby” and “When the Phone Stops Ringing” that also appear to come so naturally. Gross clearly has a gift for crafting the type of tunes that easily tug on the heartstrings and practically beg his listeners to sing along with exuberance and enthusiasm.

Fortunately then, Gross doesn’t follow the mantra insinuated in the title. The fact that this is mostly a one-man show that finds Gross writing all the material, playing practically all the instruments and overseeing the production duties overall suggests he’s anything but a slacker. In this case, quality and quantity are shared in equal measure. So, too, given this superb set of songs, Gross’ gift has never been more apparent.

— Lee Zimmerman