One of the many delights of HBO's Deadwood series is the music chosen to be played over the closing credits of each episode. This includes swing, folk, blues, gospel and contemporary classics that celebrate the wide-ranging roots and branches of traditional Americana. And this is the selfsame musical ethos that informs The Danberrys, an Ashville-based husband and wife duo.
Dorothy Daniel's glamorous looks are at odds with the raw authenticity of her vocals. Her voice links very effectively with Ben DeBerry’s robust guitar playing. The sound is electric and twangy in contrast with the acoustic material of their previous three albums.
"We want our songs to be vague enough that they could be interpreted to mean different things", says Daniels although a title like Love Conquers War is fairly unambiguous.
The rousing title track makes for an arresting opening which Daniel, forgetting her pledge to be enigmatic, describes as a daily mantra on how you may "continue to grow and let go of all the things from your past that want to keep you down and keep you from being who you really are in the world”.
Many lyrics apparently touch upon the physical and psychological pain she experienced as a child and the powerful tune The River is Wide ("and hard to cross") alludes most obviously to this trauma.
The record was co-produced by Brian Brinkerhoff and drummer Marco Giovino. The duo also worked alongside bluegrass artist, Jon Weisberger, on a few of the songs.
The collection was recorded at Dagotown Recorders in Boston, MA in three days. Guest musicians include Duke Levine on guitar and mandolin and Darrell Scott, who sings on the album’s first single The Mountain.
The closing tune, Rain, features Daniel and DeBerry harmonising over broader themes of faith and unity. Like most of the tracks, it would not be out of place on the Deadwood soundtrack and anyone who has seen the series knows this is high praise indeed.