Review: Casey Edward Denman - Songs for the Living and Songs for the Dead (2010)


artist: Casey Edward Den­man
release: Songs for the Liv­ing and Songs for the Dead
format: CD-R
year of release: 2010
label: Autumn Fer­ment
dur­a­tion: 18:33

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com

Released recently on Autumn Fer­ment was this EP by the young Brit­ish singer/songwriter Casey Edward Den­man. The four songs on Songs for the Liv­ing and Songs for the Dead are a beau­ti­ful show­case of his tal­ents, and form a debut release to be proud of.

Den­man opts for the clas­sic and time-tried com­bin­a­tion of acous­tic gui­tar and voice, and works them to a level that does not dis­ap­point. Each of the first three tracks has a gal­lop­ing fin­ger­picked melody that finds a bal­ance between sim­pli­city and com­plex­ity that forms a suit­able back­drop to the vocals, without either over­power­ing or over­em­phas­ising the words. These lat­ter are another strong point of Denman’s, poetic lines that touch upon time­less themes, for example those of love, warmth, and jour­ney­ing on the bit­ter­sweet “Ode to the Weathered”. A final high­light is “Along the Crooked Path­way”, where Den­man swaps the gui­tar for another clas­sic, the banjo. This instru­ment, too, he works to intense levels, the high-attack fin­ger­picks form­ing a strong, driv­ing rhythm/melody com­bin­a­tion.

If there’s any point I find less appeal­ing on this EP, it is the vocals in some parts. Through some com­bin­a­tion of style and audio pro­duc­tion, they sound a bit shrilly and harsh at times, when the music would have benefited from more warmth. How­ever, nowhere does this detract from the over­all high level of these songs.

It is always the ques­tion how an artist will man­age the trans­ition from EP to album, but at the very least where Den­man is con­strained to four tracks, this res­ults in a release that is inter­est­ing from start to fin­ish. This is a very fine piece of singer/songwriter folk in itself - with clear echoes of the tra­di­tion start­ing in the late 1960s - and one that holds prom­ise for the future. It is also a test­a­ment to Autumn Ferment’s abil­ity to scout out fit­ting new artists for its grow­ing roster. So, folk lov­ers are encour­aged to pick this one up, and sooner rather than later, as it is lim­ited to 200 cop­ies.

Reviewed by O.S.

Track­list:

1. Hearts And Bones (5:25)
2. Ode To The Weathered (3:03)
3. Our Ancest­ors Babies (And Branches And Buds) (4:50)
4. Along The Crooked Path­way (5:15)