Wednesday, November 23, 2022

S J Denney Is Full Of Surprises On His Brilliant Latest EP

S J Denney is slowly building up a reputation as an admirable singer-songwriter. After releasing his debut EP, the exceptional ‘4 Reasons to Fly’ earlier this year, the UK native is now back with follow up ‘The Moods That Flow’.

The EP opener. ‘The Art of the Possible’ is awash with soothing drums and a looping surf guitar riff whilst Denney’s nasal-driven vocals provide us with some earnest moments. “Because anything is possible beneath the city lights” he declares as a glorious string section swirls overhead. It’s a technique reminiscent of great northern acts such as Badly Drawn Boy or Elbow at their peaks. The introduction of mellow female vocals overlaying Denney only add to the grandeur of a track that even features a jazz-infused saxophone solo as it reaches its crescendo.

The spectacular splendour of ‘The Art of the Possible’ is replaced by a more subtle presentation on ‘A Silent Scream’. The song is a much more stripped-back outing by Sweeny, with it serving as a vessel to highlight his rough and straining vocal delivery. The more laid-back nature of the track continues on follow-up ‘I Don’t Know if This Changes Things?’. This track, however, is filled with sounds of summer. “I’ll meet you by the orange grove” proclaims Denney, whilst whirling surf guitar riffs accompany the singer before the female backing vocals return to only add to the sun-kissed nature of the EP’s penultimate tune. 

The closer takes an exciting turn as Moroccan as Denney sounds like he is joined by classic North African and Middle Eastern instruments such as The Rabab and the Nai. It adds a psychedelic element to the release as the slow, steady drumbeats and straining instrumentation bring an otherworldly aspect to the track. Over the beauty of ‘In the Dying Light’, the singer talks of introspection. “I’ve done a lot of thinking again / Beyond my point of view / Instead of looking back at myself / I keep staring through” he states, in one of the more earnest EP closers you’re likely to hear this year.  

Yet, Denney is not done with surprises yet. As the sun sets on the North African picture he has painted on ‘In the Dying Light’ we are interrupted by 90s’ inspired piano keys as the hidden track slowly stirs into life. It’s an added treat in a release that is full of surprises. 

James Ogden 

Image: ‘The Moods That Follow’ Official EP Cover 

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