The first artist that came to mind while I was listening to this new Britton Deuel album was Dierks Bentley, not the current Dierks Bentley, but his earliest albums. Britton skirts the boundary between country music and pop, with a smattering of blues and other influences. His album Sky Between the Pines was released the day of his show at the 2013 New West Fest, in mid-August, and since then he has appeared several times on our local community radio station KRFC as a special music guest. He also just played a set at the Black Mountain Ramble at the Wild Boar. While he is not yet coasting on the success of his album, Britton Deuel is still an artist to watch in the coming years, with solid original music and the determination to succeed in the music world, however much work it takes.
As a coherent album, I was not as impressed with Sky Between the Pines as I’d hoped to be. I have seen several of his live shows, and I know what great music he is capable of. Listened to as one long album, this one came across as a bit too monotone, with too little variation and a muddiness that his live shows never exhibit. But, taken one song at a time, each song is quite good. If I had this album mixed into a long playlist on random or shuffled, Britton’s songs from this album would stand out as really good music. Considering that some of the big-name professionals in country music also release albums with the same sort of monotony, Britton’s album is at least as good as many ‘A-list’ performers whose albums I have bought and enjoyed.
And as an early album, a harbinger of ever greater things to come, Sky Between the Pines is great. Few would argue that Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley or Dierks Bentley are worse musicians for the fact that their early albums were not as finely polished as their later work. When Britton gets to be as famous as these fellows, his songs off his recent album will be cherished just as much by his fans as songs from Kenny Chesney’s early albums are cherished by Kenny’s fans.
So, is this one of my favorite albums of all time? No, it’s not. But is it worth buying? Yes, and not just to show support and help this talented singer-songwriter keep making music. The way most people listen to music, a song at a time, not whole albums, few people would notice whether there are broad enough dynamics in this album as a whole. Each song by itself is terrific, and well worth adding to one’s music collection. And, considering that there are so many successful albums with even less dynamic range, not everyone may even mind what I find mildly irritating in this album. I think Britton Deuel has a fair shot at being a very successful musician as his career develops, and whatever its flaws, his latest album still strongly reinforces my estimation. It is not quite as good as his live performances tend to be, in my opinion, but if you can’t take him home and keep him in your closet to play for you at will, his album is a suitable substitute.