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If you like lyrics that demand attention and that will make you think, Purpose is going to make you very happy.

Music Review: Darryl Purpose – ‘Still the Birds’

When a person is as unusual as Darryl Purpose, you can expect his music to be as different as he is, and it is.

Courtesy o Blue Rock Records
Courtesy of Blue Rock Records

Purpose is a member of the Blackjack Hall of Fame who has been banned from casinos in six continents. After spending years sleeping in his truck and playing anywhere he could for tips, he won a couple million dollars and started concentrating on his music full-time.

Aside from winning gambling fame, he has walked across the country to promote peace and studied with spiritual leader Thich Nhat Hanh. As a musician, he played the first stadium concert in the former Soviet Union with Bonnie Raitt and Santana, and co-founded the Second Strings Project to provide strings to musicians in third world countries

Every bit of that experience helps explain why Purpose writes about subjects that deal with the human condition, spirituality, literary icons, history, and, always, the tension between dark and light and good and evil, without any fear of controversy. While the music and style are similar to James Taylor or, at times, Jimmy Buffett, the lyrics are like nothing this writer has ever heard before.

For instance, a definite highlight of the album is “When Buddha Smiled at the Elephant,” in which love (Buddha) overcomes the weapons of war and hate (the elephant). Then there are the songs that deal further with war, as a Vietnam draft dodger loses his mind in “Hours in a Day” and history is brilliantly captured in the Civil War story, “Shiloh.” A different sort of war is depicted in the LA gang saga “Evergreen Avenue.”

Dylan Thomas and Edgar Allan Poe were no strangers to the struggle between light and dark. Like Purpose, they realized that it is more important to write truth than to avoid controversy. Purpose pays tribute to Thomas in “Prince of the Apple Towns” and to Poe in “Baltimore.”

All 11 of the songs here, written by Purpose and his partner Paul Zollo, are intriguing, the words filled with brilliant imagery while Purpose’s laid-back, warm vocal style imbues the whole album with an underlying sense of deep compassion for the human condition.

Get this album and listen with care. If you like lyrics that demand attention and that will make you think, Purpose is going to make you very happy.


About Rhetta Akamatsu

I am an author of non-fiction books and an online journalist. My books include Haunted Marietta, The Irish Slaves, T’ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do: Blues Women Past and Present, Southern Crossroads: Georgia Bluesand Sex Sells: Women in Photography and Film.

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