Danny Flowers’s album Tools for the Soul is a folk-inflected, roots rock journey of redemption by one of Nashville’s premier guitarists and songwriters. In crisp response to the musical question “O Brother Where Art Thou?”, Danny Flowers delivers the resounding response “Here I Art” through his stunning Brash Music label debut. Southern musical styles in particular have always included an element that mingled freely and seemed to defy the ability to be described in a single word. And that’s what we have with this. Danny Flowers’s record–it’s partly gospel, and the blues, and folk, and country. If you need to sum it up in a neater package, it’s essentially an “American Music” record. Which means a melting pot of styles but with an unabashedly Spiritual message. Calling it a Gospel record doesn’t quite do it justice because of the musical cubbyhole that this implies in some circles. Calling it a blues record is not quite right either–and yet the personal pain and suffering that gave birth to the blues sits right in the middle of the songwriting, and Danny plays one of the finest slide guitars this side of heaven. Maybe it’s an updated brand of traditional American folk music. While it might avoid a neat description, we think its appeal is unavoidable. We’ll leave it to the listener to decide.
Danny Flowers’ long-in-the-making debut for Brash is as bold and breathtaking as it is unassuming and humble in its expressions of faith. Danny Flowers may not boast the star power of any of these celebrities, but that doesn’t hinder his Brash Music debut, Tools for the Soul, from being one of the finest entries in country gospel. The album is simply Flowers’ honest-to-God testimony after a life ruled by drugs. It’s a message that’s accentuated further by the album’s lack of polish. Its rawness recalls Buddy Miller’s Universal United House of Prayer with it’s Texas blues, roots gospel, Americana, and alt-country–sometimes all four at once. But the reason Tools for the Soul is a triumph isn’t so much a matter of style or substance as much as one of downright soul. It’s passionate yet modest–simultaneously striking and simple–full of faith, yet genuinely moving without sounding pretentious. An unexpected gem, and one of year’s best.
“I consider Danny a good friend and a great musician in the truest, old-school rock style. There is just not enough of this kind of stuff around anymore.”
“I first listened to this remarkable album on a Sunday morning, and it took me to church and beyond. Danny’s songs bear witness to his life with humor and humility and a wisdom born of experience. They are a testament of hope, full of joy, from a faith earned the hard way, every day.”
“Dear God. Please let millions of people hear Danny Flowers so they can come to know what a great singer and songwriter he is and perhaps they will get to see what a beautiful human being he is as well. I love Danny Flowers, and I want everyone in the world to feel the same way I do. So, you see, I’m counting on you, God, to make the world aware of Danny Flowers. Your humble servant.”