Nashville-based husband & wife duo Dorothy Daniel & Ben DeBerry (The Danberrys) began as an acoustic team but their 3rd LP sharpens their edges & toughed their showcase on Shine (Drops May 8 – Singular Recordings).
Lots of wonderfully diversified song ideas, albeit based on musical roads walked by many. Instantly likable is “The Road,” which reminded me of the intonation of New Zealand’s alt-country singer Donna Dean’s (“Rain Fall Down” among others).
But while I find Dorothy’s vocals smooth there is a single word that vocally could be improved & pronounced better. More of that later. As for her performance, Dorothy’s tonality is impeccable. At times, she could be even more contrasting (as Donna Dean does) with some vocal aggression.
“Never Gone,” has an infectious melody. Ben (guitars/vocals) allows Dorothy the center ring & while her vocals are not too smoky, not too high, it sparkles. While she’s not yet a Sandy Denny or Annie Haslam, she has the marzipan sound of Jennifer Warnes, Linda Thompson, or Christine McVie.
The band: Marco Giovino (co-producer/drums), Neal Pawley (guitars, trombone, tuba, bv), Duke Levine (guitars, mandolin), Marty Ballou (upright & electric bass), Tom West (keyboards), John Deaderick (pump organ), Amanda Broadway (great name), Vanessa McGowan & Sam Margolis (bv).
Darrell Scott guests on the beautiful shuffling “The Mountain,” & his soaring vocals compliment Dorothy’s dynamic performance. Falling back into a more pensive voice Dorothy is exceptional on the darker “Undertow.”
With all songs written by the duo, they offer a wealth of styles: rock, folk & alt-traditional. “Love Conquers All,” “Holding the Bag,” Both well-constructed catchy melodies. “The Coals Glow,” played refined, unimposing with clarity & proficiency.
Adding a pinch of J.J. Cale musicality possibly comes with “Maddie’s Ghost,” a Cale style guitar strides along in a typical Oklahoma blues tradition. Dorothy proves she’d be an effective blues stylist. Concluding with “Rain,” the duo approaches The Rankins, & the amazing & creative inter-vocalizing style of 60s duo Lyme & Cybelle (“Follow Me” – Lyme was the late Warren Zevon). The unified vocal is like syrup on buttermilk pancakes. Beautifully performed.
Criticism: Unless it’s for vocal effect on “Shine” the singer should always go for the vowel to hit notes (at least that’s what I was taught). Singing “A” or words that begin with “a” it’s not pronounced like the first letter of the alphabet. That can be a distraction. Add polish: it’s pronounced “uh” as in: “uh-way,” “uh-lone” or even “yes-ta-day,” as opposed to “yester-day” — no hard r’s. I noticed it more than once. Minor flaw.
Overall, the songs are indeed always sung very well.
The CD artwork does not justify the music. The stitched insert is well-designed, but the front CD art poorly represents the songs contained. That colorful well-rendered kaleidoscopic artwork is meaningless to the music.
The 48-minute, 12-track CD was Produced by Brian Brinkerhoff & Marco Giovino. Available at the website. https://www.thedanberrys.com/