A timeless piece of tenderness shines through on the Mark Henes’ simple beauty of “Arm Full of Roses”. Reminiscent of those old classic love songs, there is a distinct loveliness to his delicate guitar work. Such a beautiful kaleidoscopic number of styles filters into the whole of the mix, from a bluesy take to the finger-picking goodness of folk with a mixture of long-forgotten 50s ballad thrown in for good measure. By keeping things to the absolute essentials, he creates a world that feels all-encompassing and downright gorgeous. Deep in the center of it all are Mark Henes’ careful poetic lyrics. With his strong vocal delivery, the song gains a deeper poignancy.
The swaying back and forth between sadness and joy recalls the hard-fought clarity of David Berman’s work with the Silver Jews and Purple Mountains. Unlike those efforts, Mark Henes opts for a more optimistic outcome. His careful guitar work draws from a number of traditions, such as the loose playing of John Fahey alongside a Bossa Nova-infused emotion a la Joao Gilberto. Even the arrangement keeps things rather paired down. Forgoing something larger, with only keyboards and his voice, he sculpts a virtual dream world. As the piece progresses, he allows the melody to grow ever larger. Usage of the guitar work adds to the power of the track. Incredible lyrics move the piece from the desire of something more to something offering comfort. With the roses there is an appreciation of everything that has happened alongside everything that will happen. Comforting to its very core, the song affirms that truly no one is alone.
Such a slow tempo introduces the piece. Delicate, fragile guitar lines work in a cyclical fashion. The buildup of tension feels perfect. Upon letting this melt away, it instead transforms into a mellow little groove. His attention to detail means every possible flourish has plenty of room to roam. Everything simply works wonders. Incredible color flows through as a sort of surrealist imagery starts to appears. On the latter half of the piece the dream becomes fully realized. Wheeze from the organ adds to the romantic hue of it all. Bit by bit the sadness of the beginning gradually melts away revealing a kinder scope. For the last few moments Mark Henes lets it all melt away as the guitar slowly brings it to a close.
Pure bliss radiates throughout the whole of the lilting lush realm of Mark Henes’ “Arm Full of Roses”.