The hardworking everyman has a new hero, and his name is Ed Dupas.
A Good American Life, independently released on compact disc on May 28, is a full-length collection of songs written by Ed Dupas and performed by Ed Dupas with Rob Avsharian on drums (Andy Timmons Band), John Connors on bass (The Verve Pipe), Drew Howard on pedal steel (Jill Jack, Drew Nelson), Craig Griffith (The Verve Pipe) on harmonica, and Tara Cleveland singing background vocals.
Ed Dupas (pronounced “doo-PAH”) is an emerging singer/songwriter from Ann Arbor, Michigan. Having grown up in Texas and Winnipeg, and setting up shop in Ann Arbor, Ed’s music is a combination of folk, country, and Americana, and like those traditional styles, bends toward the experiences of the working class, its struggles, its values, it’s hopes, and it’s disappointments.
Ed is the sort of man who’s playing style and easy affability fits nicely around a late night campfire. Ed has played music for most of his life, cutting his teeth in pubs and open mics for several years. He naturally began writing and performing his own material along the way, showcasing his work around the Detroit, Michigan area.
Ed eventually began performing with regional and national artists, including Chris Knight, Josh Rose, Michael Crittenden, and Troll for Trout. In 2015, Ed recorded his debut album, A Good American Life. The album was produced by Michael Crittenden (Drew Nelson and Josh Rose), and was mastered in Athens, Georgia by John Keane (R.E.M., Cowboy Junkies, Robert Earl Keen, Nanci Griffith, Uncle Tupelo).
The album’s 12 tracks cover topics near and dear; the title track sums up the mood and wit of the album’s content. It is indeed a good American life, with an asterisk, of course.
From “pool halls” to “pawn shops”, to the fields outside of the towns where once industry thrived, Ed weaves a tapestry both personal and universally American in scope.
In “Flag” images both traditionally patriotic and wistfully longing for a closure to contemporary national ills blend seamlessly. “Home in Time” adds a personal touch to the ramifications of a country torn by war and an ailing economy that separates loved ones by not only miles, but circumstances.
In “Whiskey Bones” the theme continues with an added hopefulness that companionship and empathy can be just as uplifting as relief to one’s economic circumstances.
Other songs, such as “Remember My Love,” “This Old Town,” “Train,” “Too Late Now,” and “Until Blue Comes Around,” get downright specific about what is at the heart of working-class life in the early 21st century; gone are the naked politics of the protest songs of yore. There are no simple solutions. These days, we are all on our own, and we need one another more than anything else, perhaps even more than we need a paycheck.
Sonically, the album consistently retains a dusky hue, reminiscent of Nebraska-era Springsteen or early Red House Painters. Ed’s music is essentially acoustic at its core; the recordings include some accompaniment complete with flourishes of overdriven, midwestern guitar shapes and pedal steel over top spare and sure drumming, while the occasional harmonica embellishes the quintessentially American folk sense of these tunes. Ed’s baritone vocals retain an easy, warm, and melodic tone, his lyrics refreshingly well articulated with just a touch of sardonic wit beneath the heartfelt and at times aching delivery.
Ed Dupas is certainly an up and comer worth keeping an eye on. This debut album is equal parts folk and contemporary country, equally patriotic and anti-establishment, with just the right amount of sensibility and honesty; it is proudly midwestern in every way, and a welcome addition to any acoustic music collection, or road trip.
“A Good American Life” from A Good American Life by Ed Dupas