Denali opens with “Bright Eyes,” a catchy piece of folk pop whose lyrics deal, as much of Hill’s material has over the years, with matters of the heart. The title track follows, and it has a slightly Celtic folk feel to it at first, which then picks up to include a bit of alt-country with horn accompaniment which brings to mind, at least to some degree, traditional brass-based Mexican music.
Lyrically, on the title track, Hill conveys how she has observed and experienced so much, and how she has traveled to a great many places, yet it still takes her breath away to see Denali. The point being: one doesn’t need to travel to exotic places to behold wonder and beauty; sometimes it can be found much closer to home. “Lioness,” which is one of my favorites on the album, is an indie folk and pop offering, with a captivating fictional narrative about a complex female character, the Lioness, who is at once both heroine and antagonist, savior and killer, elegant and bestial … an interesting mess of contraries, in other words. “Epic” is a soaring piece of folk rock music with beautiful vocals by Hill, fitting accompanying vocals by Daste, and lyrics penned in heart-blood high on a wall for all passersby to see. And, “Sad Again” is a somber country composition with weeping pedal steel, reverberating amplified guitar, and acoustic strumming, with lyrics about how it hurts despite trying to numb it with alcohol.