Dupas is a heartland troubadour who recorded this album in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It was produced by Michael Crittenden, who also plays guitar on the album. Crittenden is part of a solid, satisfying band with pedal steel and keyboards adding to the mid-western sound. The album was mixed by John Keene, noted for his work with R.E.M. and others. It takes the basic of Dupas’ guitar songs and adds layers of blue collar attitude to these song of hard life and heartache; themes that would be familiar to fans of Mellencamp, Springsteen, Earle and others who explore the dark hues of the urban/rural divide.
Dupas has a warm baritone voice that has presence and personality. The twelve songs are all written by Dupas, with Crittenden co-writing With Love You Never Know. Although Texas born, Dupas lives in Michigan and has been playing music since his teens. This is his debut album and it is a good start that shows his potential and ability. He takes his observations and understanding of everyday lives and put them into songs like the title song, Whiskey Bones, Home in Time, This Old Town and Until Blue Comes Around, songs that explore emotion and the everyday, everyman experience.
There a sense of irony in A Good American Life that contrasts what that could be and what it actually is. Flag is another song that seems to espouse an attitude, but highlights the flag as central to different feelings and different reasons for its use. Train takes you on a journey “where there ain’t no coming back” - we run on life’s rails. You Don’t Get to Explain details the way that one person’s mistakes often have lasting effects on others. The album’s final statement is one that declares our physical need for love. Without You is an acoustic song that asks for understanding while considering the unthinkable.
There are a number of artists whose records I could easily file along side this, artists such as Chris Knight. This kind of music is not about changing the rules, it is more about delivering an honest statement of how one sees life from a particular viewpoint. In that light, Ed Dupas’ songs are truthful and delivered with a real emotion that rings true; made not for profit, but for merit. These songs have muscle and grit and the playing throughout is full of nuances that underline the songs’ storylines. Dupas should be considered as a worthy addition to those troubadours of truth and decay whose songs both resonate and reward.