Henrietta – ‘Paper Wings’ Review

Posted: by Riley

Orlando’s Henrietta are masters of well-rounded emotional deposits. Often, frontman Manuel Urdaneta’s subject matter is downright tragic, but bright guitars and an air of sophistication steers listeners away from the possible pity-party. Instead, they’re kings of dynamic shout-alongs and actively convert their sadness into pure energy. After a promising 2014 debut, Henrietta are back with a 7-song LP called Paper Wings.

In digging through Paper Wings, I found that the shiniest treasure lies in the details. Henrietta’s 22-minute mini album is a somewhat straightforward emo-friendly indie rock record, but given repeated listens, its something much more. Paper Wings is a deeply thoughtful collection of songs with a diverse emotional palette. The emphatic and able-voiced Urdaneta marries his knack for sticky hooks with natural inclination for story-telling. The Florida band reveal their southern roots through sturdy, wiry guitars and deceivingly controlled, anthemic vocal performances.

My favorite thing about Henrietta is their ability to fill a space with color and sound, and then strip it away to paint an even prettier picture with the negative space. Often, their booming, shout-along choruses ring out completely, leaving Urdaneta’s vocals bare, subsequently revealing the quirks and tender emotional nuances you don’t fully absorb when things get loud. You get the sense that Urdaneta’s sullen poetry truly weighs him down — its music you hope is cathartic for him, and just rooting for someone else makes it cathartic for you, too. The kind of dramatic, ultra-sad lyrics you find on softer highlights “In The Backyard” and “Few Friends” live a more fruitful life in between the softly-plucked strings of Urdaneta’s guitar than they would on paper. 

Henrietta have created something special with Paper Wings, and leave themselves room to grow; that’s not a dig, either. I look forward to seeing the band expand their sonic spectrum and incorporate more diverse instrumentation, but that is not to sell this record short. Paper Wings exceeds itself with every listen; the band’s sharp, confessional songwriting is meant to be lived with and learned about — trust me, there is plenty to discover. 


Best Tracks: “Arrows,” “In the Backyard,” “Few Friends”
FFO: Manchester Orchestra, Balance & Composure, From Indian Lakes