Album Review: Ben Dukes - "Walkin' Thru Hell"
There are two sides to singer/songwriter Ben Dukes on his latest album, Walkin’ Thru Hell. On “The Lord Knew Me First,” Dukes brings on the testosterone and frat-boy swagger with shameless abandon. “Ain’t a curbside liquor store late-night bar single woman safe in this town,” he boasts. On the other hand, Dukes displays a sensitive side on the title track, capturing the loneliness of a soldier in combat. Then again, much of the record is about battles, not just physical ones but against personal demons and desires.
With his big, deep voice, Dukes was made to front a country-rock band. The music here is produced to commercial perfection; the guitars are crisp and clean, and Dukes’ vocals are in front of the mix. The songs are brimming with indelible hooks, such as the single “Old Fixer Upper.” On this track, Dukes compares renovating a house to his own flaws, aching to repair a broken relationship. For all of his macho veneer, Dukes has a strong, beating heart, a true romantic deep within it all.
“I’ll always want more,” Dukes sings of “Whiskey and Women.” Well, the same can be said of his listeners. A couple shots of these life-affirming anthems can be mighty addictive. Drink moderately if possible.