“Deep in the Water (Redeux)” is the first single from The Gary Douglas Band’s new full-length studio album Wild Life. It’s a reflection in song of Douglas’ experiences as a trial attorney fighting for clients against the DuPont corporation for illegal dumping a dangerous chemical into the Ohio River. The story has received wide coverage and dramatic treatment in film; Douglas’ artistic contribution in the form of song is a forceful anthem filled with some of the same spirit you will find in Bob Dylan’s classic anti-war screed “Masters of War”.
It isn’t a sustained fusillade of anger however. Douglas seizes upon a number of emotions for this track though, admittedly, indignation and defiance are chief among its characteristics. There’s no question that “Deep in the Water” means to get people thinking, up, and moving in service of a cause, but Douglas’ intentions obviously run a little deeper. Great songwriters in this style are historians with guitars, in a sense, and depicting this subject matter in song is a contribution to a dialogue that will, hopefully, continue for decades to come.
Douglas has extended himself to make this so. The song manifests his writing chops in a clear and concise way; you will struggle to find any fat or extraneous material marring either the lyrics or musical arrangement. Both possess plain-spoken eloquence, earthy yet intelligent, and never waste the listener’s time with preaching to the choir. It is hard to ignore the clarion call Douglas aims for at key points of the song. “Deep in the Water” peaks at the right moments and has dramatic energy that carries listeners away from the start.
There are a number of instrumental highlights scattered throughout the performance. The lead guitar playing flaring through the mix, especially in the song’s second half, lights up the performance with piercing stabs of emotion further fueling the song’s sense of mission. The rhythm section lends a lot of theatrical emphasis to the songwriting yet never goes overboard. This is key. Douglas and the musicians never weigh “Deep in the Water” down with more than it can handle and, as a result, the song travels light for listeners and encourages repeat listening.
The brevity of the recording does as well. Everything about the latest single from the Gary Douglas Band zooms in on their completeness of their presentation. There is not a single sonic or verbal element neglected in putting this track together and Douglas complements his message even more thanks to the music video he released for the track. It is obvious this recording is the product of intensely personal experiences and hard work shaping it into a stirring work of musical art. G-d send us more bands like this to clear away the bullshit. Gary Douglas, in the five years since he first emerged in the indie music world with 2014’s Just Another Mile, has worked hard to hone his skills and perfect his craft. The results show in this song and we can expect great things from his future songwriting.
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