The album, My Book Of Answers, is the result of two-a year collaboration with Russian fan Vladimir Emelin, in which Hensley put Emelin's poetry to music. My Book Of Answers will be available via Cherry Red on March 5 (opens in new tab).
"I was flying to Moscow, he was on his way home and he saw me at the airport," said Hensley, shortly before his death last month. "I guess I’m his idol and he’s been a fan since he was a kid. Well, he asked me for an autograph and a picture, which I was happy to give him, and for an email address.”
The pair arranged to meet, and Emelin asked if Hensley could turn a couple of his poems into songs. “I tried a couple of songs, although I didn’t know if I could do it because I’ve never done it before," said Hensley. "He loved it and he wanted me to do more and more until we finally ended up with an album’s worth of songs.
“I made most of the album under lockdown, Coronavirus restrictions, which was easy because it was just file-sharing over the internet with the musicians, the singers and my engineer and it was relatively easy.
"What we had to do was make sure we didn’t compromise any quality. I popped it over to my manager Steve Weltman and typically, before I know it, he’s got the guys at Cherry Red interested in it! The whole thing takes on another dimension."
The collaboration has also spawned a series of videos, a concert and an illustrated lyric book, all of which will be included on a CD/DVD of the release. The concert was filmed under socially distanced decisions close to Hensley's home in Spain, while the videos tell of each song's development.
"Each song features the original Russian lyric, the translation by Vladimir’s friend in Siberia, and my notated stuff where I changed the words of the poem into a song and created verses, bridges and choruses," revealed Hensley. "The fans can see all the changes I made, and understand why I made them, and then there’s the final lyric that appears on the album.
"Alisia Vaselieva, a wonderful illustrator and friend of Vladimir’s, has done an illustration for each song, so five pages for each song and it will be a deluxe hard-back package - a collectors’ item."
My Book Of Answers is available to pre-order now (opens in new tab).
My Book Of Answers tracklist
02. Right Here Right Now
03. Cold Sacrifice
04. The Silent Scream
05. Cover Girl
06. Light The Fire In My Heart
08. The Darkest Hour
10. The Darkest Hour (Acoustic)