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“Promised Land” by Danny Burns

Surreal and softly tucked into the eye of a mild hurricane of synth melodies, Danny Burns’ lead vocal in “Living in the Promisedland,” one of the ten songs found on the new record Promised Land, is entrancing from the start. Though not always the most expressive element in Promised Land, this voice is consistently the most endearing component of the music here, even when the synthetic instrumentation is riding high on harmonic ecstasy in “Fields of Gold” and “Lifeline.” Danny Burns is pulling out the stops to give us a performance worth its weight in gold in this album, cover or not, and I’m not the only critic saying so this month.

URL: https://www.dannyburnsband.com/

“Dirty Old Town,” “Living in the Promisedland” and “Nothing But a Child” feature some of the most cathartic vibes I’ve heard on a bluegrass record, but they don’t overpower the other tracks here at all. These songs stand in strong compositional contrast to the pessimistic energy that’s been coming off of the Billboard charts in the last couple of years, and while they’re not the only source of melodic release in the album, they’re certainly some of my favorite selections from this tracklist just the same.

Lyrically, I think Promised Land is the most honest and unfiltered LP Danny Burns could have produced. The excellent Adele cover “Someone Like You” aches with an introspective vocal only matched by the ebbtide of rhythm found in the song’s backend. “Some Might Say” contextualizes its verses with a humble instrumental harmony that amplifies the emotion in the narrative exponentially. “Magnolia Wind” puts poetry above pop polish, and inevitably sounds more genuine than any of its mainstream contemporaries by leaps and bounds. No matter where we listen here, there’s an undying desire to be heard on the part of Danny Burns, and this alone makes the album a must-listen in my book.

The first time I sat down with Promised Land, I couldn’t help but feel like “Someone Like You,” “Lifeline” and “Nothing But a Child” were all developed to make some live recordings down the line. There’s so much positive energy fused with undying rhythm in these three songs, and with just a little bit of tweaking, they could light up a summer concert like nobody’s business. Danny Burns is a complicated performer, and if that wasn’t a focal point of any article discussing his music before, my gut tells me it will be in the future.

There are tons of great tunes out this September, but for what I look for in a bluegrass record, this is a top choice and then some. You don’t have to be a hardcore Danny Burns fan to fall in love with the ten songs included here, but for those of us who have been following his journey, this is a required acquisition without debate. I’ll be spinning these tracks long into the rest of the year, and something tells me I won’t be the only one who is doing so come the change of the season.

Troy Johnstone

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