tracks: 12 run time: 38 min

by Michael Rampa

Wisconsin native Dean Richard knows a little something about the indie route. He has been on the small club circuit for two decades, playing as many as 250 shows a year. After a five year stint with the Milwaukee band Incognito, he released his first solo project, “Blood Beer and Poetry” in 2012. His  sophomore album, “Driving Through the Storm” enlists the help of heavy hitting studio musicians including Jimmy Nichols (Carrie Underwood, Scotty McCreery) and Troy Lancaster (Tim McGraw, Brett Eldredge, Blake Shelton) The end result is a 12-track effort that shifts gears frequently but subtly throughout its 38 minutes without disturbing  the overall thematic flow of  life, love and hope.

The folky opener, “One Precious Life” is a somewhat clichéd, but pleasing ode to simple pleasures, including hot apple pie, clear skies and friendship.

“Kathy’s Song” is a sad ballad about the passing of an ex-lover shrouded in David Gilmour-esque atmospheric guitar.  The title track coincidentally has the groove of The Doors’ “Riders On The Storm” with a story about domestic violence and haunting background vocals that match the mood.

This early heavy handedness is counteracted the rest of the way  by  up-tempo pop and 70s era easy listening numbers. The harmonica led rockabilly of the obvious and fun “Smokin,” is a nice curveball.

It is a no frills indie effort with a veteran feel punctuated by capable guitar spanning styles from blues/rock to jazz. Richard has a home studio and the album is clearly untainted by glossy production and effects. If you download the album, iTunes auto classifies it as rock, but there are elements of AC, blues and pop. It is available through online retailers and his website