S J Denney returns with his latest EP Beneath the Skin. It is a short collection of songs assembled in his cabin studio in his garden. When writing this release, it slowly came together from a moment from his past. Not his best times, but the process was a type of therapy for him. As a result, these are an honest collection of songs that are very personal to him. He would like people to listen to his words and interpret them in their own way.
“Slow Burn(er)” opens up the release. From the outset, its delicate drum loop catches the listeners attention. Something he says, “from the very start I knew that I wanted to use a drum loop similar to Massive Attack’s Teardrop”. Soon he shares his tale about escaping a relationship, as highlighted during the opening verse, “Now there’s something to lose / So I’m moving on with my life / Cause I was right all along”. As always, he has a great way with words that sets the scene. As for the audio backdrop, he weaves various instruments together, including his drum loop and impressive use of a saxophone. Guest vocalist Roisin O’Hagan adds more emotion to Denney’s words.
“Out of Harm’s Way” returns to his usual acoustic tone, when less is more. It lets the listener focus more on the lyrical qualities that he has to offer. His words feel like there is a hidden meaning behind them. Especially during the chorus, “But it feels much better / Knowing I can tell myself / That I am out of harm’s way / At least I’m out of harm’s way”. It is an honest song about being in a strenuous situation. Lines such as “I’m not going back again / To the life I had / Before my lucky escape / Far from it all” will speak to them. It is a track that offers a lot once you begin to scratch the surface.
With such genuine songwriting from Denney, some of the songs’ messages are clearer than others. For example, “Sticking Point” is about breaking free. As highlighted from the opening lines, “A new chapter on a new page / A young smile on an old face / What does it mean to me? / Now I’m flying free”. Again, he does not disguise the emotions within the situation. The honesty of his songwriting is a quality that has always impressed. He is an artist who shows no fear in creating music that is true to him. It is a grower of a track, as it keeps getting better with each playthrough.
“Tuesday’s Child” has a beauty about its more simplistic sound. Its delicate guitar fits perfectly for the opening lines, “Wake up / It’s just a bad dream”. As much as the music has a tender feel, the lyrics have a different tone within them. There are some real emotions put into words, that some listeners will appreciate. Personally, it is the stand out track from the EP. It is due to the honesty of the lyrics and its gentle soundtrack. It feels like a contradiction that comes together to create something so captivating.
S J Denney delivers an honest collection of songs which is appropriately called Beneath the Skin
Beneath the Skin EP closes with the short “Burn Slow(er)”. But his delicate vocals and guitar are beautiful on the ears. He shares each line with a slow but natural flow, letting each word breathe. It would have been interesting to hear a longer track recorded in this manner. Maybe this will appear on his next record. Overall, it is an honest album that highlights his lyrical talents. Yet again, it offers something new by S J Denney. And, like his previous releases, should not be missed.