Seems a long time since we heard from The Danberrys, almost three years to the day actually when Blabber’n’Smoke reviewed their second self titled album which was nominated in the Best Americana Album category in 2013’s Independent Music Awards. On this follow-up, married couple Ben DeBerry and Dorothy Daniel add another ten songs that run the gamut from bluegrassy hoedowns and crystal clear folk songs to rhythmic recollections of the past with some dark undertones.
As on the last album they’re ably assisted by Ethan Ballinger (mandolin, guitar, keyboards and cigar box) and Christian Sedelmayer (fiddle) while bass is provided by Sam Grisman and Kyle Tuttle offers occasional banjo. An impressive combo they play wonderfully with a gossamer like touch on some of the songs but they’re also able to dig in and plough a fertile rootsy loam.
The album starts well with the combined vocals of DeBerry and Daniel over a solitary guitar on Receive, their voices recalling country duets from the past with a slight devotional touch. Gentle backing from fiddle and mandolin then adds to the sense of voices from the past. Lady Belle allows full rein to Daniel’s voice on a song which ripples with a shivering delight as the band expertly deliver a subtle Celtic folk sound that nods to artists such as Sandy Denny and Shelagh McDonald. Let Me Ride is in a similar vein although there’s more of a skip in its step here along with a fine chorus, the ensemble playing quite superb. DeBerry steps up to the mic for the rousing bluegrass knockabout of Long Song which allows Ballinger, Tuttle and Sedelmeyer space to solo and spar with each other but thereafter the album grows somewhat darker and deeper.
Don’t Drink The Water is a menacing percussive piece with a chain gang drive, sinewy guitar and hand claps recalling slave memories. Sedelmayer’s fierce fiddle interludes add to the menace here while Daniel’s voice is powerful and emotive. Similarly Life Worth Living harks to the past with only a percussive beat backing the vocals on a song which brings to mind Rhiannon Giddens’ excavation of plantation songs, the reek of the old South strong here. The album ends with a powerful trio of songs. All The Way Up is a magnificently dynamic song, the band ebbing and flowing wonderfully behind Daniel’s impassioned vocal. Get Back Home offers DeBerry the opportunity to show that can create a mood as well as his other half, his vocals here as comfortable as a back porch settee on a song that rings as clear as a mountain stream with heavenly harmonies and some gorgeous playing from the band. We’ll Be Done closes the album on a strong note as Daniel is reflective, singing of rebirth over a gently tinkling backdrop which slowly swells into an ethereal chorus as the band play a lengthy outro. Wonderful stuff.