Christopher Denny – If The Roses Don’t Kill Us [album review]

by Woody on July 31, 2014


During SXSW ’13, Christopher Denny had the 8PM slot for the Partisan Showcase. A relative unknown, without a new album out, the club was half-full at best. Earlier that day, I got some of the lowdown on Denny’s troubles with addiction that led to many problems, one being the interminable delay in following up 2007’s Age Old Hunger.

As the show went on, I met Denny’s mother and his wife. They seemed to be viewing the festivities with a mix of excitement, apprehension and protection. On one hand, it must have been great to see him up there but the sobriety is such a fragile thing. Denny put on an amazing set and I met some real nice people, including Denny himself – been looking forward to this album since. As 2013 came to an end with no album, I got nervous that Denny had slipped backwards. I was told all was good; sit tight and 2014 will see the release.

It finally is here and while I can’t speak for Denny; I will say the wait was worth it. It is brilliant – a genuine Americana album that bounces between heartbreaking and uplifting. “The album was inspired by my struggles,” Denny says. “The moments in my life that caused me the most hurt and brought me the most beauty. The songs deal with the self-loathing, fear and thoughts of inadequacy we all struggle with, something I call soft suicide.”

God’s Height views Denny’s feelings of inadequacy and shortcoming as he can’t seem to measure up to his wife/girlfriend. It’d seem that this song was born from those early tough times when Denny couldn’t seem to move his life forward. It’s a wonderfully written track with some astute lyrics.

A few songs later, Watch Me Shine strikes a redemptive tone. While I’ve never had any struggles with addiction, I’ve been figuratively been smacked in the gob a few times. Its easy to get down yourself and wallow. This song is for the fighter in all of us. When the chips are down, and you don’t think you can move one step forward, this track is for that time. Its got a groovy little guitar lick in it and Denny delivers the goods.

It might have taken Denny a while to get this point. I know he has a lot of good people in his corner now, and many others pulling for him. This is another step in the journey. If The Roses Don’t Kill Us is an amazing and timeless piece of Americana. It is out on Tuesday and he’s hitting the road with another HearYa favorite, Strand of Oaks.

Follow me on HearYa at @WoodyHearYa

Christopher Denny is here

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