When I saw Danny Burns a while back at Music City Roots (please find a new venue MCR, we miss your intelligent spirit!), I learned a few facts – a lad from County Donegal in Ireland, given the opportunity to work with some impressive musicians, a new album with some gifted contributors, the new songs previewed that night sounded strong.
Well the new album has taken quite a while to surface. Not just since that MCR appearance mind you, but it follows two decades of touring both sides of the Atlantic, slowly honing his craft and solidifying his position. After living in America for almost twenty years – first in New York City, followed by stints in New Orleans, Chicago, and the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC. Not exactly an overnight sensation.
North Country, his debut, is a sparkling and passionate jewel. A collaborative album filled with appearances by icons like Jerry Douglas, Sam Bush, Tift Merritt and Dan Tyminski, with further contributions from Holly Williams, Mindy Smith, Cara Dillon, Tim O’Brien, ChessBoxer and Old Crow Medicine Show’s Critter Fuqua.
The songs drip emotional essence, soaring, infectious and Burns’ moving and swooning vocals echoing more than a fair whack of life experiences. The instrumental interplay is ornate and hypnotic – Douglas and Bush in particular. It reminded me of watching episodes of that unique and magical series Transatlantic Sessions. I can imagine Burns with the aforementioned cohorts sitting in a room in some Scottish castle, blending seamlessly into one strands of Celtic and American roots music. Highlights are the opener “Let It Go,”, the Celtic ballad “Darling Róisín” and the harmonies (with Merritt) on “Human Heart.
Produced by Danny Burns himself, North Country was largely 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).
Here’s a clip for “Let It Go”: