In 2008, Danny Brooks knocked me off my pins with the explosive No Easy Way Out (here). You, dear reader, may have first known of him via the bestselling motivational biography Miracles for Breakfast (oh hell no!, not the Scientology-published tome of the same name by Ruth Minshull in the late 60s, good lord no!), in which the man chronicles his journey through the ass end of life, addicted and bottoming out but eventually drawn to a golden sun just over the horizon. Well, the guy's still a rough and tumble cat, as the 20-page liner booklet well illustrates (raven hair to his shoulders, deadset mouth, intense gaze, leather jacket and all in black), full to the brim with blues, rock, soul…and Christianity. Is that last part a problem for you? T'ain't for me, and I'm devout born-again atheist. As I've said many times within many reviews: ah loves me a good Jesus song, ah shorely do.
Brooks, y'see, isn't a puling Christer along the lines of Rural Rhythms' Mike Scott (here) but instead a fully human being who's eaten enough dust, cried enough tears, caught more than enough wounds inside and out, and dragged his keister up off the floor sufficient times to fully sympathize with all humanity. That was the entire center of the Christos, if you'll please recall: he empathized with every creature on the face of the Earth, and thus was not at one with so many of the blustering lunatics who succeeded him through the centuries, the religious mercantilists one now sees on TV, hears on radio, or reads in print. Those, I sprint to breathlessly pronounce, are not Christians, y'all. No, they and most Christians are Constantinians, the refugees of the bloodthisty namesake emperor and the Councils of Nicea who twisted the Bible out of all recognition and into the tome the West suffers under to this very moment, war-mongering and soulless.
Brooks, on the other hand, doesn't remonstrate or proselytize, doesn't blame or hector, instead just tells it like it is, straight from the depths of a strong heart and gusty lungs. He encourages people to recognize what's really inside them and manifest it. Whether that urging comes across in a gospel tune, via a rockin' stomper, or through bluesy shout—heck, sometimes even a ballad!—the gent never wavers in his convictions or passion, always on fire and 100% sincere. Plus he plays a damned mean slide, strums an inviting set of gee-tar chords, and crafts solid compositions, this time in what's referred to as a 'front porch' style 'cause that's just what's goin' on here—that is, if'n yer neighbor's a rompin' stompin' gitdown kinda guy whose veranda's splintered and creaking from all the rave-ups and bootscootin'.
That all said, didja note the personnel roster just below the CD title prefacing this review? Well, that's the entire band: just Danny and his wife Debi. Not a single sessoneer, just them two. The only weakness in the confab lies in the fact that Debi's not really a singer (sticks to backing vocals but they're weak) though she knows how to get a good little percussive line going and stick to it. And the disc is actually a two-fer, 70 minutes of music crammed into a generous 18 tracks. Brooks never lets up, never has let up, never will let up, and will go to his Maker singing and fully imbued. Isn't that what invests what we call 'art'? Isn't that the element that makes art 'art', that supra-ordinary vision and personalized expression? Well, that's what you get here, and that's what you get with all his work. Thus let me, as I pass on my affinity for this release, also urge you to go back and pick up No Easy Way Out as well, a classic. After that, you'll understand Danny Brooks completely.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2015, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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