This sixth album from Charleston, South Carolina’s Dangermuffin, is a revelation. Heritage is a fine, warm piece of work and it makes me wonder how I haven’t heard of this band before? Where have they been – or where have I been? It’s irrelevant since I’ve now found them and I can tell you, it’s a band – certainly an album with a lot of heart in the right places. On Heritage, the band crafts a showcase for their coastal-influenced grooves melded with Americana sensibilities and Appalachian fingerpicking, which is a heady mix. The album’s lyrics contemplate the universal human connection to our ancestors, ancient traditions and symbols while yearning for humanity to get back to its roots – something that people forget the true meaning of. And “roots” is definitely part of the Dangermuffin ethos.
The album opener, “Ode To My Heritage”, is a twangy foot-tapping gospel-styled piece with a passionate delivery from vocalist/ guitarist Dan Lotti; on “Waves”, you instantly get a tropical feel, easygoing and liquid, permeated by silky guitar lines and great sax playing, making its way into the flow but not in an overbearing manner. “Ancient Family”, the album’s first single, has a theme built on our cosmic connections and how its intertwined with our ancestors; the lyrics call “…my ancient family/will you rise up with me?…”, which seems to be the universal question with sweet guitar licks and harmonies floating. One of the standout tracks, “Ol’ Fidel”, the song builds on an acoustic reggae foundation that bulds up and explodes into an all out jam. And on certainly the most moving (and autobiographical) track, “One Last Swim”, the band pays tribute to a departed friend, percussionist Kirk Horn. The band had become friends with Mr. Horn over the last few several years. When terminal illness struck down Mr. Horn, he moved to a place he had never been, Folly Beach, South Carolina, to (as it’s stated) “experience the joy and deep connection to the ocean that his friends describe in their music.” The words were written about Mr. Horn, who performed on the track and passed on a week later. And it’s knowing a band can still reach that depth of emotion that makes you appreciate their overall approach even more.
It does make a lot of sense; Charleston is a warm, yet cool city with a lot of color and vibe to it, so it isn’t surprising that a band could take those natural elements of their home base, integrate it into their music and then start to add the nuances to really give themselves that something to make them stand out from the others. Dangermuffin have managed to do it effortlessly and joyfully.
Heritage will be released on Friday, March 31st, 2017.