Chris Daniels has been such an integral part of the Colorado music scene for so long, that it is almost possible to take him for granted. What a huge mistake that would be, as one listen to his beautiful new album Better Days will immediately confirm that he is an artist at his peak. After a nearly fatal bout with leukemia, Chris has obviously taken stock of what matters in this life, and his art and audience are the clear beneficiaries. A sprawling, musically diverse program of heartfelt tunes, Better Days finds Daniels addressing lots of issues from his past in a mature and, as always, humorous way. Whether it is lost love, found responsibility or loving acknowledgements to his fellow musicians, Chris looks it straight in the eye. He doesn’t shy away from tough subjects, such as the loss of his first wife at 36 on “I Still Think Of You,” or his own recent brush with mortality on “Sister Delores.” He also never loses his ability to laugh at himself as on the timely “Medical Marijuana” or “Therapy,” but as always Chris is at his best when serving the songs, and numbers like “Eldorado Canyon,” “This Old Guitar” and “Better Days” show his superior craftsmanship as a singer, songwriter and arranger. As the album comes to a close with a breathtaking rendition of the old spiritual “Right Down Here” and fellow Colorado legends Hazel Miller, Freddi Gowdy, Clay Kirkland and Tim Irvin among others are singing and playing along, and one looks over the amazing package by local artist Greg Carr, filled with touching photos from Chris’ life, it was pretty easy to see why this guy is a hometown hero. He’s one of the best we’ve got.
- Paul Epstein
Be sure to check out Chris Daniels live at Twist and Shout on August 7th at 6pm!