Christopher Denny arrives blessed with a tender vibrato that might have made Roy Orbison tip down his shades. The Little Rock transplant's first album in seven years kicks off with the bipolar guitar and banjo play of "Happy Sad," which, for all its monosyllabic simplicity, foreshadows the singer's lyrical duality of pain and hope. The love songs come in numbers: the acoustic inferiority complex of the gorgeous "God's Height;" unique respect for personal privacy via a "Million Little Thoughts;" and the distrust of "Love Is a Code Word" and "Man a Fool," the latter reminiscent of Elvis Presley's "Suspicious Minds." Denny's agile melodies and good-hearted lyrics largely carry the batch, though questionable single "Watch Me Shine" comes off underwritten and reliant on vocal flair. If the Roses Don't Kill Us bookends brilliantly with the black church gospel of "Some Things," a musical high point for the Dave Sanger-produced backline of tidy roots rock sessioned by local blue-chippers including Glenn Fukunaga, Cindy Cashdollar, and Marty Muse. They bring professionalism, but not the stage-tested chemistry and power of a devoted crew. Christopher Denny remains a talent without a band.
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