John Dennis tells his own story of hope, healing, and rebirth with this summer’s A Second Wind, the second album from the young Americana musician.
Released in July 2017, the album finds Dennis sharpening his mix of folk, southern soul, and stripped-down country. It’s a warm album, punctuated by swells of pedal steel and swirls of B3 organ. At the center of the sound is Dennis himself: a clear-headed singer, songwriter, and storyteller who’s coming to terms with the tragedy that sent him spiraling into a period of depression and addiction.
A songwriter since the age of 13, Dennis found a lifelong muse in his high-school sweetheart, Adrienne, who shared his love of the Beatles and Tom Petty. The two were inseparable for years. Tragedy struck during Dennis’ first semester as a music student at Nashville’s Belmont University, when Adrienne was involved in a fatal car accident. Left without his partner, Dennis threw himself into songwriting, earning a record contract with Dr. Bryan Clark’s Rainfeather Records in the process. Meanwhile, he coped with Adrienne’s loss by leaning heavily on the numbing effects of alcohol.
Eternity’s Tree, his first collection of honest, heart-baring songs, arrived in 2014. The album dealt heavily with Adrienne’s loss, but it did little to cure Dennis’ drinking habit. By the following year, he was a full-blown alcoholic. During the months that followed, he bottomed out, cleaned up, relapsed, and cleaned up once again, this time committing to sobriety for good. He owed it to Adrienne. And he owed it to himself.
“For five or six months after getting sober, I worked a day job at a craft store, picked up a guitar every few days, and rediscovered music without drinking,” he explains. Most of A Second Wind’s songs were written during that period, while Dennis pieced his life — and his art — back together. “I allowed music to be a healing thing,” he adds, “and found my footing both in my artistic life and personal life. I’d gotten to the bottom and realized there was another way of doing things. It’s a second wind.”
One month before A Second Wind’s summertime release, Dennis will celebrate two years of sobriety. The timing couldn’t be better. A Second Wind is an album about hope, reconciling love, and giving love — as well as life — a new shot. Intimate, human, and unflinchingly honest, it’s a battle cry from an artist who, after successfully fending off his demons, isn’t too proud to show off his scars.