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Monday, June 02, 2014

ROUTES & BRANCHES
featuring the very best of americana, alt.country and roots music
May 31, 2014
Scott Foley



I've got a song that's happy and sad / Part of it's good / Part of it's bad
Christopher Denny's voice may be shocking to the uninitiated.  Falling somewhere between Jiminy Cricket and Jimmie Dale Gilmore, it will certainly stand in the way of Denny becoming our next American Idol.  Just as well, it's not the biggest obstacle the Austin writer has overcome on the way to his 2nd album (see addiction; bad choices; the "great Southern tradition").  Matter of fact, it's been close to a decade since the release of his debut, Age Old Hunger.  While those years found the man in some bad places, the long-awaited release of If the Roses Don't Kill Us finds Christopher Denny is a pretty good way.  His "Arkansas Soul" permeates songs like "Our Kind of Love" and the title track, both honoring equally the Nashville and Memphis poles of the equation.  The pedal steel and keys of "Wings" recall the greats of country/soul, but sidestep stereotypes.  Despite his reported personal missteps, even his weepers refuse to be indulgent, with most tracks setting a moderate pace behind percolating organ, tripping drums and jangly guitar.  Denny is the rare lyricist whose words ring with real life echoes:  She wears her attitude / Like Elvis wore his hair.  You'll probably get over his voice long before Christopher Denny's songs cease to resonate.  On the relatively rocking and affirmative "Watch Me Shine":  I fall in and out of believin' / and in and out of faith / I don't like to say I don't / Maybe that's what keeps me sane / Watch Me Shine

Also on this Episode, I realize that Denver's Gun Street Ghost might just be one of the best things to happen to Colorado music in 2014.  Hollis Brown pays sweet 'n dirty homage to Lou Reed by applying their own spin to the entirety of the VU's classic Loaded.  We also ask Andy D (of Tarnation! fame) if the tats-n-beard ratio at Fort Collins' Choice City Stomp might trump that of any other festival on earth. 

*  Over the Rhine, "Jesus in New Orleans"  Ohio  (Back Porch, 2003)
*  Kelly Willis & Bruce Robison, "I'll Go To My Grave Loving You"  Our Year  (Premium, 14)
*  Hellbound Glory, "Streets of Aberdeen"  LV  (Low Down Home, 14)
*  Gun Street Ghost, "Hammer"  Gun Street Ghost  (Self, 14)  C, D
*  Lee Bains III & Glory Fires, "Dirt Track"  Dereconstructed  (Sub Pop, 14)
*  Charlie Daniels Band, "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight"  Off the Grid - Doin' it Dylan  (Blue Hat, 14)  D
*  Old Crow Medicine Show, "Brushy Mountain Conjugal Trailer"  Remedy  (ATO, 14)
*  Joe Henry, "Every Sorrow"  Invisible Hour  (Worksong, 14)
*  Jolie Holland, "Route 30"  Wine Dark Sea  (Anti, 14)
*  Glossary, "Cheap Wooden Crosses"  Long Live All of Us  (Last Chance, 11)
*  Jayhawks, "Tailspin"  Rainy Day Music  (American, 03)
*  Fire Mountain, "Doing Fine"  All Dies Down  (This is American Music, 14)
*  Kent Goolsby, "Hitched"  single  (TIAM, 14)  D
*  Star Anna, "Let's Not Kid Ourselves"  Sky is Falling  (Self, 14)  D
*  Ross Etherton, "Best Dress"  Ross Etherton & Chariots of Judah  (Troposphere, 14)  C, D
*  John Fullbright, "High Road"  Songs  (Blue Dirt, 14)
*  Dan Penn, "Don't Lose Your Good Thing"  Fame Recordings  (Ace, 12)
*  Lee Fields & the Expressions, "Magnolia"  Emma Jean  (Truth & Soul, 14)  D
*  Hollis Brown, "Head Held High"  Gets Loaded  (Alive Naturalsound, 14)  D
^  Christopher Denny, "If the Roses Don't Kill Us"  If the Roses Don't Kill Us  (Partisan, 14)  D
*  Ben Nichols, "Last Pale Light in the West"  Last Pale Light in the West  (Rebel Group, 08)
*  John Howie Jr & Rosewood Bluff, "Goin' Under (All Over Again)"  Everything Except Goodbye  (Self, 14)
*  Mary Gauthier, "Oh Soul"  Trouble & Love  (In the Black, 14)
*  Joe Purdy, "Waiting for Loretta Too Long"  Eagle Rock Fire  (Mud Town Crier, 14)  D
*  Handsome Family, "Cold Cold Cold"  Twilight  (Carrot Top, 01)

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