John Dennis is raw, honest, hard hitting folk for the Modern Age.
Mortal Flames press release bio:
John Dennis, a 27 year old Freeburg, IL native and Nashville based recording artist, will be releasing his third full length album, “Mortal Flames” on January 31, 2020. This record marks the newest installment in a series of elemental themed albums released with producer Bryan Clark and Rainfeather Records. It is preceded by “Eternity’s Tree” (2014) and “Second Wind” (2017).
Dennis has lived a lot of life in just 27 years, and in characteristically candid fashion, “Mortal Flames” represents a triumphant step forward towards even greater creative and personal expression. Where his previous two records dealt heavily in the themes of grief following the death of his girlfriend Adrienne in 2010, his subsequent near fatal struggle with alcoholism, and the journey to recovery—a path he is grateful to still be on—“Mortal Flames” wrestles with some of life’s biggest questions: how does man find meaning in life in the face of his own mortality and the mortality of those he loves? How does one process and heal from the wounds of the past—including those passed down to him in the chain of hurt begetting hurt? Is man really a victim to a cruel and unyielding fate, or is it merely his own stubborn expectations for how his life is supposed to play out that prevent him from seeing the peace and possibility that lies just before him?
Dennis reaches for his own answers to these questions in ways that are, at once, deeply personal and universal. “Mortal Flames,” an idea based on the mythological image of our lives being measured by the burning down of candles, earns the distinction of a concept record in that it chronologically follows the narrative of a life’s search for meaning; it starts with Dennis’s own version of a creation myth and travels through: the wistfulness of childhood, the disillusionment of adolescence, first love and the death of it, the discovery of new love and life, the acceptance and healing of the past, and ultimately death and the passing of the mortal flame so that the story can begin again. As an avid fan of myth and the writings of Joseph Campbell, John’s record is brimming with archetypal imagery and nods, but is equally full of references to his own story and a courageous transparency in bearing his own scars.
Though it is not the final song of the album, the spirit of Dennis’s search on “Mortal Flames” seems to find its stark climax on the track “Good Good Love,” a duet performed with his current girlfriend of two years Allanah “Al” Zitka—who is the real life inspiration for the second half of the record. After enduring the death of his girlfriend Adrienne and just barely surviving the wretched valleys of addiction, Dennis, it seems, has found a new lease on life in “Mortal Flames,” and, out of those darknesses and the light on the other side of them, he has gleaned a wisdom that he feels we are all meant to hear: “Sweetheart, those scars they never were and never are your fault, slow down, cheer up, you deserve a good, good love, and it don’t have to be with me though I wish it was, you’re free, and for once, you don’t have to run.” “‘Mortal Flames” is a triumph and an invitation for all of us, alongside John Dennis, to tell our own stories, bear our own scars, and see our purpose as an equal and integral part of a greater journey that we all are undertaking.