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July 2024
Vol. 23, No. 10

CD Reviews

DARIUS DEGHER: Open Question to the Sky

by Wayne RikerJuly 2024

Singer-songwriter Darius Degher is a master tunesmith as he demonstrates on his latest CD drop, Open Question to the Sky. He accompanies himself primarily on acoustic guitar and mandolin, with additional backing and overdubs of sitar, keyboards, bass, and harmonica. What immediately stands out is Degher’s wonderfully effortless and fluid fingerpicking guitar stylings in combination with colorfully selected chord voicings that make for a much more sophisticated musical backdrop than the obligatory garden variety chords many singer-songwriters rely on.

The ten-track package, a simple production that never gets in the way of his lyrics, is a mixed bag of how Degher views the present-day world in contrast to moments of optimism and self-assurance as he states in the opening track, “This Is It.” “I got a lot more gratitude, and a little less attitude, it’s been a journey,” followed by “Good News,” a glib look at all the bad news we are fed by the media, often overlooking many of the positives. “L.A. skies are somehow clear and cancer deaths are going down each year…the ozone layer has made a real come back, we’re living longer and that’s a fact.”

The title track, “Open Question to the Sky,” is a masterpiece, loaded with searing metaphors on par with the brilliance of the early Bob Dylan recordings. “Why do people fight wars for religion and for blood, scattering the bodies in the deserts and the mud?”

One of the tender moments arrives on “The Myth that You Become,” amid the repeating chorus “your eyes are a channel of love, your days are the myth that you become,” as well as on “Butterflies Again.” “I feel so good, I’ll say an atheist amen…wherever I look, I’m seeing butterflies again.”

Degher holds nothing back on the track “Another Day in History,” documenting all the current global ills and hypocrisy in a marvelous flow of rhyming metaphors, e.g., “a litigious president is on trial, lying seems to be in style, airlines shedding personnel,” with a stream of consciousness flow of lyrics akin to Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues.”

The minor-key ballad, “Monkey Mind,” is among the many track highlights, with Degher’s keen observations of human anxiety and worry, complemented by well-placed frenetic harmonica flurries. “Regrets are piling up despite your age, unsure if you should rage or disengage, refusing blame you always try to deflect, battled by the law of cause and effect.”

The album concludes with “Only Art to Me,” with well-written words examining the affinity of art and life. “She was a redhead, her sister was a Deadhead, she lived by astrology, would spend Aquarius money, she was flesh and blood, now she’s only art to me,” tying the bow on an entertaining listen of tunes that had me reminiscing about the days of packed coffeehouses with audiences in rapt attention, soaking in every spoken word.

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