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The Henningsens, ‘American Beautiful’ – Song Review

American Beautiful
Arista Nashville

As the country group category continues to run over with talent, it will become more and more difficult for newcomers to claim an original style. The Henningsens don’t have to worry about this. The father-dauther-son trio’s new song ‘American Beautiful’ is a fresh breath of cool country air that doesn’t stray too far from the proven. It’s song that could work in the same way ‘Hip to My Heart’ worked for the Band Perry in 2009, as more of an introduction to a talented trio than a hit in the making. 

This is more than coincidence, as Brian (dad), Aaron (son) and Clara (daughter and lead singer on ‘American Beautiful’) wrote just about everything on the Band Perry’s debut album that the Band Perry didn’t write themselves, including singles ‘You Lie’ and ‘All Your Life.’ While there are some similarities between the two groups, the Henningsens’ music is brighter, and they are less reliant on harmonies.

She puts her boots and bandana on / She has a hankerin’ for rolling stones / She likes her vegetables home grown / A lot like the boy waiting out in the truck,” Clara Henningsen sings to begin the song after a guitar-driven introduction. Her voice is thick with confidence. Nothing about her story feels contrived. It’s as if they’re singing about themselves, which as it turns out they are.

The chorus goes “Ooo, ooo, ooo she’s a little unusual / Ooo, ooo, ooo she’s American Beautiful.” But after the bridge, it changes to, “We are a little unusual / We are American Beautiful.”

Typically, turning a song’s message inward is a sure way to find your single being used as a drink coaster. It works in this instance, because the first two verses are spent telling a story we can relate to. By the end, their “we” can include a new group of fans.

It’s clear there is real, reliable talent in this country threesome, and they’ve done the hard work necessary to earn a record deal and have their single released to radio. ‘American Beautiful’ isn’t an American original, but there was a reason the Band Perry waited until their second single to release ‘If I Die Young.’ Sometimes playing your ace too early can scare off everyone else in the room.

3.5 Stars

Listen to the Henningsens, ‘American Beautiful’

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Next: See the Top 100 Country Songs of All Time

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