Music Reviews
Danny Epps

Danny Epps

Rumors of the Truth

StarPlay Records

One of the most horrifying experiences I’ve had involved country music – or at least what has passed for country music in the past 15 years. Working as an intern, I had the misfortune of being stuck in a hot, smelly office with an overweight woman who had Billy Ray Cyrus’s “Achy, Breaky Heart” playing constantly with obsessive repetition. She brought a cassette consisting of only that track, psychotically looped so she – and whoever else ran into the bad luck of sharing airspace with her – could listen to it repeatedly. Worse yet, she would sing along to it with a dog’s howl of an achy, breaky voice. It was the most mind-numbing ear torture since Roseanne Barr “sang” the National Anthem.

The trauma was so much that I kept my distance from country music since then, dabbling in it only when necessary. Since veteran country songwriter Danny Epps was compared to Willie Nelson, I figured I’d be safe, free from any of the superficial fluff prepackaged by modern-day Nashville. Sure enough, Epps pens songs with a personal, brutally honest touch. On “I Need a Bad Woman Bad,” an ode to red-hot lust, Epps takes the bluesy swagger of George Thorogood’s “Bad to the Bone” and gives it a vintage country-rock snap. Epps’s lyrics reveal what is truly on his mind without any of the usual sanitized crap.

For the most part, I paid more attention to Epps’s songwriting than the music itself. His words tell stories with a poet’s eye, especially the moving “Red River Rose” and “I Danced on the Moon.” Epps can be hilariously funny as well, such as “I Need to Go Crazy,” a track about wanting to break free from the monotony of blue-collar work.

This is definitely not Billy Ray Cyrus. This is authentic country music, straight up like hard liquor.

Pen Star Music:

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