Danny Burns “Low Country” (Bonfire, 2019)

The first sound your ears catch upon hearing ‘Low Country,’ the debut from Irish folk singer Danny Burns, is the unmistakable dobro of Jerry Douglas.  Soon after, the legendary Sam Bush’s fiddle and mandolin envelop the opening track, ‘Let it Go’ (not the Disney ditty).  Lyrically, you’re transported to New Orleans in a sort of newgrass version of ‘Life in the Fast Lane’ – the same amount of cocaine, but without the Joe Walsh.

Danny Burns has been kicking around the music scene for the better part of 20 years, dating back to his days in his native Ireland.  He’s dabbled in rock, R&B, blues, and the like.  After stints in New Orleans, Washington, DC, and Chicago, he settled in Annapolis, MD.  Now he’s traveled down to Nashville to return to his folk roots.

Burns assembled a line-up of Nashville and Americana all-stars including the aforementioned Douglas and Bush (who both contribute to several tracks) as well as Tift Merritt, Holly Williams, Mindy Smith, Dan Tyminski, Chessboxer, and Old Crow Medicine Show’s Critter Fuqua. Self-producing, Burns recorded at Gary Paczosa’s home studio in Nashville, as well as the city’s Butcher Shoppe studio (owned by John Prine and David “Fergie” Ferguson).

The music on ‘Low Country’ crackles with life throughout – the pure joy of veteran musicians sharing their love of creating a vibrant acoustic resonance.  Consider ‘Waiting on Something to Give’ with Tyminski on backing vocals; it’s a beautifully constructed arrangement cradling a haunting melody with lyrics urging you to go after something you believe in regardless of what others think.

The Irish and Cajun worlds collide on the two-step dancehall romp, ‘Look into Her Eyes,’ featuring Holly Williams and Critter Fuqua, along with Bush and Douglas.  Traces of the Stones’ ‘Wild Horses’ can be heard on the verses of the gentle ‘Amy’ (with Cara Dillon and inspired by the passing of Amy Winehouse).

Tift Merritt adds backing vocals to ‘Human Heart’ – a highlight that recalls late-‘80s-era Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.  It’s a definite single contender…if singles are still a thing.

Danny Burns has delivered a strong first outing on ‘Low Country’ – proving that if you search long enough for home, you’ll find yourself back where you started, and most of the time, that’s right where you belong.

Veteran Irish folk singer enlists Americana heavyweights on sublime debut.
7/10

Author: Mike Elliott

A husband, father, writer, musician, former disc jockey and radio program director, lover of bad jokes, Dylan fanatic, and an all-around pretty good guy.

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