- Bryon Harris
The Imaginaries - 'Hometown Christmas'
Review By Pat Joseph & Staff
“Hometown Christmas” has that great feeling of inspiration and growth that one looks for out of a “roots” sounding outfit. A fresh take on a holiday song, this track offers up cool sounding pedal steel and driving folky rhythms, with a duet of voices flying over syncopated guitar lines. Still, this song maintains a classic “holiday” feeling with bell chimes, glockenspiel and piano timbres. Listeners will love this holiday song with a modern flare.
Lyrically “Hometown Christmas” offers a feeling of coming home and is sure to strike a chord with listeners this season. “I feel that hometown Christmas in the air.” This song captures the feeling of returning home after traveling long and far. “Its an open invitation everyone is welcome here.” The Imaginaries communicate the subtle feeling of belonging for which one hopes during the holiday season. “Its that time of year, hearts are filled with cheer, Feel that Hometown Christmas in the air.” These lyrics are brought to life by beautiful vocal harmony.
“Hometown Christmas” layers sonic textures to give the song a feeling of cascading. Relentless in its nature, the song conjures images of getting where one needs to go. There is a determination in this music that allows it to shine. Both vocalists bring a character that highlights and elevates their partner. This song is well done on so many levels. Expertly produced and convincingly delivered, “Hometown Christmas” is a fresh holiday classic that has the markings of a classic.
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About the Imaginaries
The Imaginaries, Maggie McClure (piano, keyboard, vocals) and Shane Henry (guitar, vocals), was formed in the open plains of their home state of Oklahoma. Maggie from the large city of Norman and Shane from the tiny 700-person town of Verden, both caught the music bug early. Together, their love of performing, writing music, and their faith all make up the glue that keeps them grounded and focused on the dream of turning what they’ve imagined for themselves into the reality of The Imaginaries. Maggie was given her first keyboard by her parents when she was only a year old and at eight she received her first karaoke machine singing to her favorites, Bonnie Raitt and Sarah McLachlan. She would later meet Raitt which made a huge impression on Maggie who didn’t truly find her voice until she was in middle school when she turned to music to help her find her way after her parents’ divorce and the passing of two grandparents over the course of the same year. “Music became my only way to communicate and to make sense of what I was feeling when words alone were at most times too intimidating,” says Maggie.
As a result, she began performing and playing in bands throughout her younger years and through college striving to make her dreams of singing, songwriting, and performing full time a reality. Since then she has opened for Sara Bareilles and Walk Off The Earth, has had over 45 original song placements on TV shows such as Dr. Phil, Cougar Town, The Real World, The Vineyard, and The Hills, in TV movies like Hallmark Channel's My Christmas Love, and in the feature films Cowgirls N’ Angels and A Cowgirl's Story. She also had a small recurring role on ABC's The Middle and was cast in the Disney show Violetta as the lead character's English singing voice. Maggie also sang the National Anthem at the very first NBA playoff game in Oklahoma history with more than 18,000 people in attendance, and recently reprised her performance and performed the official holiday halftime show at Madison Square Garden for the NY Knicks along with Shane.
Shane was 12-years old when his dad, who played guitar and made a point of exposing him to the Beatles, Stevie Wonder and Jimi Hendrix, took him to see two shows that changed his life: Tom Petty at the Civic Center in Oklahoma City, and B.B. King, Buddy Guy and Bonnie Raitt at the Tulsa Blues Festival. Inspired to learn guitar, Shane pursued the skill with a passion. At 19, Shane made the move north to Minneapolis to work and record with songwriter/producer Kevin Bowe (Etta James, Joe Cocker) and from there his career took off. He played 30 dates on tour with B.B. King, and also toured with Etta James, Buddy Guy, Joe Bonamassa, George Thorogood and the Destroyers, Johnny Winter, Edwin McCain, the Neville Brothers, and Grand Funk Railroad to name a few. He has had many song placements on NBC, CBS, Discovery Channel, Hallmark Channel, and the E! Television network, as well as in feature films.
After their own successes as solo artists, The Imaginaries came together in April 2018 when the now-married duo traveled to Muscle Shoals, Alabama to perform a couple of songs for Grammy-Award winning engineer John Cuniberti’s YouTube series “The OneMic Series” which showcases recording artists with full bands performing two songs each around one AEA R88 stereo ribbon microphone. They had such an amazing experience there that the duo decided to return to record an album in September of 2018. It was funded through a Kickstarter campaign that raised more than $22,000 in pre-ordered Imaginaries CDs (& other merchandise/perks) in just six weeks.
When it came time to record, the duo enlisted the help of session musicians and legendary Muscle Shoals “Swampers,” including bassist David Hood (Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Paul Simon), Little Richard guitarist Kelvin Holly (Jason Isbell, Gregg Allman, Neil Young), bassist Shonna Tucker (John Paul White, Drive By Truckers, The Secret Sisters), and keyboardist NC Thurman (Hank Williams Jr, Gregg Allman, Little Richard). They also flew in their drummer Rob Humphreys (Jon Foreman, Leonard Cohen, Jason Mraz) for the sessions and worked with Chad Copelin (Sufjan Stevens, Christina Perri, Ben Rector) back in Oklahoma for keys and additional production as well as keyboardist Dan Walker (Heart). The album was tracked live with everyone playing in the room, which made the performances authentic and organic, taking the same approach as they had with the OneMic series, only this time using multiple mics for all the instruments.
The planned 2019 release of the album had a major setback when Shane was struck with a serious illness that sidelined him for many months. Following his recovery, the duo was chosen from dozens of competing artists to open for the 16th Annual Brian Setzer Christmas Rocks Tour, supporting the Rockabilly legend on more than two dozen shows. Unfortunately, Setzer had to cancel the tour due to severe tinnitus. The Imaginaries self-produced, self-titled debut album is set to be released in 2021. It serves as both an introduction and the beginning of their journey as a band. Maggie, with her subtly sweet vocals and piano-style fuses seamlessly with Shane’s blues-rock grit to form their own unique blend of Americana/Singer-Songwriter music. With the experience they have gained as solo artists they are ready to take The Imaginaries to the national stage.
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