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October 27, 2003

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Straight out of Richmond, VA, Denali is back with their sophomore album, The Instinct. After putting Richmond on the map, along with Strike Anywhere and Avail, with their self titled debut album, Denali has gone back into the studios and recorded another full length that is just as amazing as the first. On guitar, keyboard, and vocals is Maura Davis, on bass and keyboard is Keeley Davis, on guitar is Cam DiNunzio, and on drums is Jonathon Fuller.

Denali’s self titled definitely established a sound for them, that was jazzy and dark, mixed in with very emotional lyrics and vocals. The Instinct is just as dark in parts, but it isn’t as jazzy. The lyrics in the new CD are up to par with the first, and in parts are even more thought out. This album shows us a more experienced band, the songwriting is better, and they have changed their sound a little bit, although it’s definitely still Denali.

The CD starts out with “Hold Your Breath”. My first impression was that this was going to be another CD about war, because of the lyrics “What’s your reason to kill or not”, but it isn’t about war at all. It’s a really good intro into a very well made CD. “Surface” changes the mood from “Hold Your Breath”. It goes in a different direction changing the whole sound, and fades into “Run Through”. This song is very good also, it comes in slowly with a soft beat, and Maura doing a beautiful, softly sung intro while the doves in the background make a little noise. The song blends together perfectly. As the song progresses she raises the emotion, just to let it drop again for an anticlimactic ending. “The Instinct” reminds me more of their first album, with its jazzier sound, it kind of sets it apart from the rest of the album. Even though the album is astonishing, if I had to pick a favorite song, it would be “Normal Days”. This song starts out slowly just like most of the songs, with Maura showing off her striking voice, but then out of nowhere is just starts to rock out. The last song, ironically, is called “Welcome”. It’s a great song to end an album that you wish would never end.

The Instinct was just as good as or better than the first. The songs are immaculate and the lyrics were more thought out. If you are into girl singers, or even if you aren’t, you should check it out. It’s unlike anything I have ever heard. I give this CD an 8.

Nailed Shut

Mike Petersen