Danny Burns Explores the 'North Country' With Some High Profile Friends

North Country.jpg

Rating: 7.5/10

If the old adage that you can judge a man by the company he keeps, then the judgments of Danny Burns are all positive. His debut album North Country, which releases Jan. 18 on Bonfire Recordings, contains guest appearances by Americana royalty like Jerry Douglas, Sam Bush, Tim O'Brien, Tift Merritt, and Old Crow Medicine Show's Critter Fuqua.

If that sounds like a lot of guest appearances for a new artist (and that isn't all of them), that's because Burns is not your typical artist releasing a studio debut. Since moving to America from his native Ireland 20 years ago, Burns has been traveling America making a living as a musician. Along the way he has played supporting sets for many of the artists named above, making enough of an impression to garner their help when it came time to record North Country.

That unusually long career for a debut artist also helps explain why North Country sounds as professional and polished as it does, while still retaining the organic feel that made Burns a popular draw on the Americana scene. The album kicks off with “Let It Go”, a catchy tale of two lovers who meet in the nightlife and magic of New Orleans. Douglas and Bush provide some hefty instrumental support, as well as superb vocal harmonies that work perfectly with Burns' own mild brogue.

Another collaborative album highlight is “Amy”, a haunting tribute to Amy Winehouse. Here Burns is joined by vocalist Cara Dillon, whose harmonies provide the album's most beautiful moments.

But it's when Burns evokes his native Ireland that North Country truly shines. “Darling Roisin” is pure Celtic folk at its best, a lilting ballad with instrumental and vocal help from Tim O'Brien. In contrast, “Great Big Sea” is a fiddle-driven Irish dance song that finds Burns waxing nostalgic about his homeland.

From top to bottom, North Country is an impressive, and long overdue, debut from an artist who has already made his mark on roots music and is set to take the next step in his career in 2019. If you want expert musicianship and poetic lyrics, you need look no farther than one of the year's first releases. North Country will give you what you need.

Instead of a standard single album release show, Danny Burns will be hitting the road to debut the album at various City Winery venues and a few others. Here are the album release show dates:
Jan. 7- Nashville, Tn.- City Winery Nashville
Jan. 16- Nashville, Tn.- Grimey's Records In-Store Release Party
Jan. 21- Vienna, VA.- Jammin Java
Jan. 22- Manhattan, NY- City Winery NYC
Jan. 23- Annapolis, MD- Ram's Head (with special guests)
Jan. 24- Washington, DC- City Winery DC
Jan. 27- Boston, MA- City Winery Boston