Back on the 22nd of September, a man we’ve covered before – S J Denney, released his brilliant EP: ‘The Trouble With Me’. In this latest collection, there’s an eclectic yet vibrant array of sounds – which are made ever-more impressive by the Essex-based singer-songwriter’s self-recorded and produced exploits. This collection really takes Denney’s sound from his studio cabin at the end of his garden to a loyal core listenership.
The EP opens with ‘Let’s See Where This Goes’. A ‘Celtic rock song’ with an admittedly Kate Bush inspiration – Denney sets an intriguing and ear-grabbing path from the very beginning.
There’s a vast array of instruments on display here in a veritable atlas of sound. A musical journey around the world: there’s uilleann pipes, a Galician gaita, tin whistle and of course, the fiddle. Intriguing percussion and pace is complemented nicely by Denney’s acoustic guitar tones, while that vivacious fiddle soars with Celtic charm. For me, an additional point of note was the highly skilled double bass that bounds along.
The second track, ‘Trying To Be Someone’ follows and it's actually a track that Denney wrote years ago. Until now, he never felt like he’d captured his artistic vision for the song. This time around, his tinkering was capped by the addition of horns as well as an erhu – which continues this brilliant penchant for global influences.
Track three is called ‘Tread Carefully’ and it’s admittedly a song that Denney see’s in front of a big crowd:
“It’s the kind of song you could imagine hearing in a stadium environment. This up-tempo number sounds like The Beatles, The Byrds, The Smiths, Bruce Springsteen and Supertramp, all in one melting pot.”
After this, the EP closes with ‘What More Can I Say?’ and it’s best described as a Middle Eastern waltz. Within, S J Denney’s musical ear is ever-present and an eloquent string section is placed nicely. On top of this, there’s another new instrument to uneducated readers – the ducar. The EP also includes a secret track entitled ‘Cabin Fever’. This lively composition sounds like country rock with a hard edge. It’s quite clear that this is the work of a composer in full flow, who no longer has any fear of pushing creative boundaries.
S J has performed in various bands, duos and now as a solo artist. These endeavours have seen him gig across the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. If this ever-blossoming solo run is anything to go by, he’ll see continued live shows a-plenty.