NEWS

Danny Brooks CD review appears in BluesWax

Southbound, (09/17/08)
Mark Goodman, Contributing Editor
Originally ran in BluesWax issue #415 on 09/18/2008
Posted: September 22, 2008

In the best tradition of Southern blue-eyed Soul comes a musician who writes from his heart. Each song is another chapter in a life nearly wasted and then saved. His style is reminiscent of Eddie Hinton or a young Gregg Allman, early in his solo career. As with Allman, Danny Brooks is helped out by members of the Capricorn Rhythm Section, including Scott Boyer, Bill Stewart, and Johnny Sandlin. It is hard to believe that Brooks is from the Toronto area. Without reading his biography, I would have placed him from Muscle Shoals, Macon, or Memphis. No matter the location of his residence, his sound is pure Southern. No Easy Way Out is Brooks' first release on Johnny Sandlin's Rockin Camel Music. Sandlin, you might remember, was an integral part of the Capricorn label and instrumental in the birth of Southern Rock. He produced and worked on some of the greatest albums of that genre, including the Allman Brothers Band, Marshall Tucker, and Elvin Bishop. No Easy Way Out was recorded at his Duck Tape Studios in Decatur, Alabama, just up the road from Muscle Shoals. The record contains eleven tracks, all written by Danny Brooks with the exception of "Carry Me Jesus," which was written by Sandlin, his wife Ann, and Carla Russell. The music is a mix of Southern Soul, Blues, and a fare dose of Gospel thrown in for good measure. Brooks provides acoustic guitar and vocals on the album. Scott Boyer, Bonnie Bramlett, Tina Swindell, and Jay Wilson help him out on backing vocals. Brooks' voice has the sound of 40 miles of hard road with too many nights of cigarettes and whiskey. His songs speak of a man who made bad choices and took the wrong path too many times, but also speaks of finding his way back from the depths. You can read about these tales in his soon-to-be-released book, Miracles For Breakfast. The title track, "No Easy Way Out," chronicles his attempts to take the easy way through life and discovery that it is a myth because "Calm seas do not make good sailors." Not every song on the record is a tale of sorrow and heartache. He tells of his discovery of the Blues as a teenager when he would sit in the balcony of the Colonial Tavern and watch such legends as Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, and Howlin' Wolf. In the track "Bama Bound," which saw considerable airtime at B.B. King's Bluesville (channel 74 on XM Satellite Radio), he tells of his desire to get down south where the music so inspired him. If you are a fan of Southern Soul Blues, No Easy Way Out is one for your collection. I hope that Mr. Brooks will make good on his desire to "head south" and we can bear witness firsthand. Mark Goodman is a contributing editor at BluesWax. You may contact Mark at blueswax@visnat.com.