If you happen to be of the Baby Boom Generation, you're probably quite familiar with the outfall of drugs. I'm not in the least anti-drug but do have several friends I no longer have due to all that, now dead or insane. I, too, had my times, mostly good but there's a dark side, and, if you get caught by it, God help ya. Danny Brooks got caught but made it back to tell the story…in an incredibly soulful way. Frankly, I'm not sure any white guy was meant to have this much soul, but Brooks is burning up with it, from the hard-charging opening cut, Ain't That the Truth, to the close of the entire thing, a voice thoroughly impassioned. In him, I hear Solomon Burke, Otis Redding, and the intensity of all the hard-scrabble greats who ever had a spotlight thrown on their luminous rough-hewn graces.
Christianity was the key to Brooks' salvation, and No Easy Way Out is the most righteous gospel type music I've heard since Aretha's Amazing Grace, a cornerstone in my music library and an LP repaired to when no other release will do the job. Brooks is singing from a core most will never even discover let alone explore, and the result is deeply affecting, imbuing him with the sort of artfulness that occurs only when you forget yourself and surrender to forces beyond any individual. And blues? Hoo-boy! Not only did he pick a great band, Kelvin Holly in particular, but catch his slide dobro in Lonesome Road. Man! Then sit back as Bonnie Bramlett, Carla Russell, Spooner Oldham, the Muscle Shoals cats, and Johnny Sandlin guest, throwing their well-known talents into the mix.
If one or two songs on this CD don't bring a tear to your eye, then I'm sorry, but you're made of stone. Try Keys to my Heart, and see if I'm not right. But it's far from all sadness and heartache, as Miracles for Breakfast, the follower, demonstrates. More, there's an abundance of jumpin', swingin', hand-clappin' get-up-and-shake-it energy and good feeling radiating throughout. Not a track is less than absorbing, not a second less than exhilarating. No Easy Way Out has to be just the start of a great new career for a guy who has already seen and done much. This CD must be heard far and wide, to my mind already a classic and solid as hell…or, in Brooks' case: heaven.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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