S J Denney – Beneath the Skin (2021)

S J Denney is no newcomer to The Other Side Reviews after he took us on a journey of changes in An Island of Clouds after paying tribute to people in our lives in ‘The Unsung Hero’. Through his latest EP Beneath the Skin, delves even deeper into personal experiences touching on loss and the process that follows.

Each track of the EP packs its own emotive punch with a diverse flow of genres and musical styles. Melding elements of folk, progressive and psychedelic rock, Denney has us falling in love with his emotive style all over again. While bringing the powerful emotional hits that we have come to expect from him, the EP also showcases a maturing of his sound as he builds on the confidence of years of experience.

‘Slow Burn(er)’ opens the EP with a beat that has your head moving to it. This slides into a rich melody that swirls around you like smoke before dissipating into the air. There is an almost decadent feeling to the music that is tempered by bone-deep grief and sadness. Denney’s vocals wrap around your senses with as much richness as the melody. His vocals are emotive as he tugs at your heartstrings and leaves you soaked in the complex emotions of the track. Through the lyrics, he questions and pushes before letting out all the things that have caused the sadness woven into the track. The backing vocals that come and go bolster the emotive power of the track. This is an incredible opening track and really hooks you into the EP.

The acoustic guitar that opens ‘Out of Harm’s Way’ leads you perfectly to the folky warbles of the melody. There is a lighter feeling to this track as the music takes a completely different turn to the opening track. The folk feeling has you swaying to the melody while the vocals question the negative traits of someone you are in a relationship with. While the melody has you floating on some easy vibes, the vocals and lyrics are much heavier. As Denney questions the other person and muses on their thoughts, he leads you to the light as he embraces the end of the relationship and a lucky escape from harm.

‘The Sticking Point’ takes a driving turn with the layered melody that brings a touch of eclecticism. Each instrument adds its voice to the melody in a way that could be haphazard but really comes together for an incredible movement. This track is a wonderful testament to the innovativeness and musicality that Denney has to offer. Through this layering, his voice calls to you from the ether to offer an introspection. This is woven into a nostalgic backdrop that adds poignance to the single.

The gentle tones of ‘Tuesday’s Child’ are a pleasant change from the heavy wash of the last track. There is a stripped back feeling to this track that allows his vocals to really shine. The relatively minimalistic melody forms a foundation for the story and emotions of his vocals to hit you. There is a lot of sadness woven into the track as you are thrown back into a difficult childhood and the sad acceptance of it. Denney’s vocals squeeze your chest and fill your throat with emotions. Each word is packed with the soul-deep pain that you can’t get away from even as you accept it and try to move on.

The EP comes to a close with ‘Burn Slow(er)’ and the gentle acoustic guitar that makes up the melody. There is a sad goodbye in this track that makes it the perfect last track of the EP. This comes through in both Denney’s vocals and the sombre tones of the horns. There is a sense of resignation in the track that leads you to the understanding that you have to move on even if the flame inside still burns.

S J Denney dives deep into sombre emotions with genre-defying tracks and poetic lyrics in Beneath the Skin. The EP slowly creeps through your veins to your heart before squeezing and choking you with melancholy and sadness. The maturity showcased in the EP is stunning while Denney’s musical prowess makes you excited for what else he will bring out.

Find out more about S J Denney on his website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Spotify.

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