Christopher Denny ‘If The Roses Don’t Kill Us’ - Partisan

The first think that hits you is the nature of Denny’s voice that has elements of something operatic but also comes from the street level too. There are hints of Jimmie Dale Gilmore in his approach and vocal style. This vocal aptitude is applied to his music which has a lot of different elements in it’s makeup. Denny has called it “Arkansas Soul“ after his native State but there are strands of country, folk, rock, gospel and soul -  perhaps neatly summed up as Americana. The end result draws you and shows you it’s heart and some of the darkness that dwells there. The playing and production has a lot of names involved with both. The songs were apparently recorded several times before arriving at this releasable juncture. He had recorded a previous album Age Old Hunger back in 2007.

This is one of those albums that just flows and should be heard in its entirety as the collective story of the songs builds over the twelve numbers. The album opens with Happy Sad - a title which can perhaps sum up the emotions involved. I image some may not take to Denny’s vocal pitch but, for me, it works and works very well. Grammy award winning produced Dave Sanger worked with his co-producers to get these songs sounding right and Denny’s own band played with musicians like Sanger, himself on drums, alongside some notable platters such as bassist Glenn Fukunaga and pedal steel guitarist Marty Muse. Denny contributed acoustic and electric guitar to the mix.

Ride On brings Denny back to basic with just voice, guitar and some backing vocals brings it right back to the essence of the music in it’s most stripped back from. But many of the songs here have equal resonance. Radio, Some Things, God’s Height and others are memorable songs built around interesting melodic structures full of swelling keyboards, solid rhythms with guitar and steel guitars lines adding much to the overall sound. All of which makes If The Roses Don’t Kill Us an compelling listen and a memorable one.