Dennis K. Duff has made his living as a songwriter for others in the bluegrass and country genres. Now that he’s stepped out with his own album you would very much expect that it would be centered around the songwriting, and your expectations will not be disappointed.
The album is a true mix of old-fashioned Americana; country, folk, and bluegrass, and if you need to put it in it’s own class then “mountain ballads” will do nicely.
Dennis is from, and of, Kentucky, (Lyon County to be exact), and this album is also very much of that place and those roots.
Things open with “Wilson Holler,” a lovingly made ballad of the mountains and clear springs that somehow turns into a song about mountain dew without turning into a cliché. This is followed by “Hey Mr TVA” and brings the sadness of so many that lost their land to the government projects back to the surface. Just as you wonder if the album is living in the past you hit “Road to Dover” which sounds *very* much like one of Tom Petty’s finer ballads. “TC and Pearl” is an especially sweet song made all the sweeter by Brooke and Darin Aldridge picking up the lead vocal and harmony parts; the song comes so to life that you’ll swear that you know the couple.
The album also covers life in the jail house, on the iron rails as a hobo, and dealing with the ’37 Flood, all beautifully written. What might be the prettiest song on the album is the closer “When I Leave Kentucky.” It evokes his love of place in that he’ll only be leaving when they bury him there.
“When I Leave Kentucky”
There are a lot of musicians providing fantastic playing on this album, and it would be much too long a list to provide all the credits here. There’s no showing off, no show stoppers, as befits an album that is all about the songs the musicians shine and make the album all the stronger.
If you appreciate well-crafted songs you certainly can’t go wrong picking this one up!