Dennis J. Leise is getting a lot of love from the press right now, but it’s not unjustified. Contrarily, I don’t think his new single and music video “I Only Do It Cause I Have To” is getting enough attention this February, as it’s possibly the most well-rounded song he’s released in his career thus far. Although the track is structured like a simple folk number, it’s got a certain pop sensibility that gives the rhythm swing and makes every bit of the lyricism more inviting. Leise has always been a methodical songwriter, and anyone who did not think so would be wise to hear this latest cut.
These lyrics are certainly thoughtful and bear the trademark ironic wit that has become this player’s signature, but I think it’s worth noting that Leise isn’t repeating anything he’s already stated in the past. There’s nothing quite as bad as an acoustic artist drawing from the same well over and over without ever growing as a lyricist, and I think there’s a big difference between someone like this singer/songwriter, who has a fluid formula for his craft, and those who can’t venture outside of comfortable parameters for fear of losing their audience.
Watch the video for “I Only Do It Cause I Have To” by Dennis J Leise
The traditional structuring of “I Only Do It Cause I Have To” aside, the enthusiasm that Leise is breathing into these lyrics is what makes it feel like a fresh single rather than something cycled from the archives. There’s a way to make roots music that doesn’t sound archaic, and it starts with the passion of the players themselves, which is something this artist has sourced both his lyrics and his attitude from. You can’t question his commitment, and the openness of both the video and the lack of complexities in the music itself verify as much.
I’ve been very impressed with what the Americana movement has been producing in the past two years, and there’s no disputing how important a part artists like this one are playing in its continual success. Dennis J. Leise is a humble guy, but his pedigree as a composer and a performer really does speak for itself. He’s got the voice to sing just about anything he wants, but what he’s using it for in this piece is perfect for what his genre needs at the moment. If this is a preview of what he still has in the tank, I’ll be eagerly awaiting more of his material.