Thursday, January 3, 2019

Danny Lynn Wilson: “Peace Of Mind” (2019) CD Review

Danny Lynn Wilson’s new album, Peace Of Mind, is full of engaging, moving and passionate songs, combining folk and blues, often with an intimate feel. All tracks are originals, written by Danny Lynn Wilson. Joining him on this release are Dave Gross on electric guitar, banjo, mandolin, piano, organ, harmonium and percussion; Matt Raymond on bass; and Ray Hangen on drums. There are also several guest musicians on various tracks. This is a disc that I loved the moment I put it on. I felt like it was speaking directly to me, and I have a feeling it will have the same effect on a lot of folks.

The album opens with “When Will The Loving Start.” There is something sad and defeated in Danny Lynn Wilson’s vocal delivery here, which is perfect. The song’s first lines are “This world is no place for a man with a heart/Drag you down, tear you apart/Turn you ‘round, turn you out.” But for me the lines that really stand out are “I don’t know why dreams are so hard/And I don’t know when this lovin’ will start.” It’s a valid question. This country has lost its soul and its heart, and most of us are wondering when it will find them again. But there is still something hopeful about this song. The line “Tell me when will this loving start” implies it will start again. Wouldn’t that be something? And his delivery of that line makes me feel it might be soon. Clare Moses joins him on vocals for this song, adding a gentle beauty to it. That song is followed by “Sympathy For Your Man,” which has a cool vibe, a haunted country blues sound that is completely delicious. Sean Daly plays lap steel on this track.

“Peace Of Mind,” the album’s title track, emerges straight out of “Sympathy For Your Man.” I am totally digging this music. There is something dark about it, but with rays of light ready to burst through at any moment. And check out that wonderful work on violin, rising like a gorgeous voice from the darkness. That’s Charles Burnham on violin. “And I need her every day/Like the sun she goes away/And I hope that someday she’ll find/All this love and peace of mind.” Then “Long Way Home” is a more fun, playful tune with nice work on banjo, plus some cool, prominent percussion. “You know I love you, baby, but can’t you see/That you were head over heels in love/With a fool like me.” This is a completely enjoyable tune, with some sweet backing vocals by Danielle Gross. But, yes, there are still blues here. “Every time I win/You know I lose/I was born and raised/To have the blues.”

“Love Only You” has something of a dark feel, particularly in the percussion. But the weariness in Danny Lynn Wilson’s vocal delivery is matched by the love in his voice, for this is a sweet song in which he sings, “Forgive me for these things that I do/’Cause I love only you.” There is something beautiful about this song, in part because of Clare Moses’ work on cello. That’s followed by “Middle Class Blues,” a tune that makes me smile the moment it starts because of its rhythm, its groove, and because of Danny Lynn Wilson’s vocals. Plus, this track features more wonderful work by Charles Burnham on violin. “We all work our lives away/And we take home half our pay/When they put us in the ground/Like hungry dogs they swarm around.” Yes, I think a lot of folks are going to relate to this one. “Shine Is Off” also has a cheerful sound from its start, which works in contrast to lines like “All I bring to you is pain” and “I fear the light is dying in your eyes/That should be no surprise.” It is almost like he is trying to make everything better with this music, and the optimism in the playing may very well carry him through and make it all right. I believe in the power of music.

Danny Lynn Wilson then gives us a more rocking blues number, “Arkansas Trotter,” with that electric guitar at its start. The song quickly develops a cool, jazzy vibe which works so well with that blues base.  I fall down, I get up again.” Oh yes.  I totally dig Doug James’ work on tenor saxophone. There is also some seriously cool work on keys. That’s followed by “High Water,” which has something of a classic vibe and sound. “Keep on running, don’t you ever look back/If you do, you’ll have a heart attack.” This song is a delight, and I love the backing vocals echoing the title line. Danielle Gross, Dave Gross and Greg Gumpel provide backing vocals. Greg Gumpel also adds some great work on resonator guitar on this track.

“High Water” is followed by “No Walls.” From the title, I thought this song might be an answer to a certain moronic president and his demented desire for a border wall. But it’s actually a kind of sweet tune. Check out these lines: “I’ve got no walls to hold your picture/I got no walls, but that’s okay/Stars in the sky will be my ceiling/And I’ll hold your picture every day.” April Mae joins Danny Lynn Wilson on washboard on this track. “My time here has been so wonderful/But there’s so many places I’ve got to see.” Then “Fuss ‘N’ Fight” has a totally delightful sound, like some happy musicians playing on a back porch. Greg Gumpel plays resonator guitar on this one. “She’s my good loving baby/Knows how to treat me right/She’s the kind of girl/Don’t want to fuss and fight.” I love this song. “Too Many Hounds” has an interesting sound, with Doug James’ baritone saxophone sounding like something from a classic Stax album, but also with some strong folk elements as well, and some unusual percussion. And then there is some electric guitar driving things forward. “When you hear me howlin’/You’ll know the reason why.” The disc then concludes with “Galway Bay,” a soft, pretty, mellower tune, featuring some nice work by Sean Daly on lap steel.  She’ll lie down under the same big sky/Same moon, same heaven.”

CD Track List
  1. When Will The Loving Start
  2. Sympathy For Your Man
  3. Peace Of Mind
  4. Long Way Home
  5. Love Only You
  6. Middle Class Blues
  7. Shine Is Off
  8. Arkansas Trotter
  9. High Water
  10. No Walls
  11. Fuss ‘N’ Fight
  12. Too Many Hounds
  13. Galway Bay 
Peace Of Mind is scheduled to be released on January 8, 2019 on SwingNation Records.

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