Karl Hendricks has been writing songs, playing shows, and releasing albums from his home in Pittsburgh since 1989. The World Says is his eleventh full-length collection of songs, including seven albums by the Karl Hendricks Trio (four on Merge Records) and three solo cassettes, and the first one by the expanded ensemble of the Karl Hendricks Rock Band. The other members of the Rock Band are all veterans of the Pittsburgh underground rock scene. Drummer Jake Leger (Magic Wolf, Landing Strip) returns for his second album with Hendricks. Corey Layman (Developer, Hovland) joins the group on bass and also oversaw the album's recording sessions. The Rock Band is rounded out by Alexei Plotnicov (Midnite Snake, Alexei and the Justins), whose guitar theatrics provide the yang to Hendricks' guitar yin.
This new album contains the usual blend of rock craft and raw expression fans of the Karl Hendricks Trio have come to expect. The songs speak of concerns also familiar to longtime listeners: finding a place for oneself outside of the crowd and finding humor and solace amidst soul-sapping drudgery. Musically, Hendricks continues his expansive and emotional guitar explorations. This time, however, Plotnicov arrives with some help, his fluid Allman-esque lines coloring some songs, his fiery leads knocking others sideways. Leger and Layman provide some of the strongest rhythm section work in a Hendricks recording so far, solidly sympathetic but not content to just be in the background. The World Says was recorded by Layman in the band's own studio/practice space, and overall, the album captures the sound of band playing in a room for the love of rock music, resolutely aiming high and almost getting there, reveling in the sweet rough edges.
Listening to this album -- effectively a survey of greatest hits inclusive of and beyond the KH3 -- pounds one point home pretty relentlessly: there aren't many people who write a hook or a turn of phrase with the deftness of Karl Hendricks. Derek Fricano