Travis Denning: ‘Roads That Go Nowhere’ – Debut Album Review

Travis Denning shares debut album, Roads That Go Nowhere, out now, May 24th, on all streaming platforms. Listen to the brand new project below.

With songs like “After a Few” and “David Ashley Parker from Powder Springs,” Travis Denning has already made quite the name for himself, establishing himself as a rising country star. He continues that trajectory with the release of his debut full-length album, Roads That Go Nowhere, out now.

On the fifteen track collection, the Georgia native stretches himself lyrically, musically, and vocally. Denning wrote or co-wrote twelve of the album’s tracks, enlisting songwriters like Josh Kerr, Jon Nite, Jessi Alexander, Chase McGill, Paul DiGiovanni, and more.

A self-proclaimed “guitar player moonlighting as a metalhead in country music,” Denning favors rock-leaning guitars and driving percussion. However, he’s much more than a wannabe rockstar, leaning into acoustic guitars, 90’s influences, bluesy guitar riffs, and airy love songs.

Roads That Go Nowhere is a culmination of songs and stories that I really believe reflect where I’ve come from, what I’ve been through, and the places I’ve yet to go and where I want to go,” shares Denning. “That’s with love, music, life, everything. I’m at that point in my life where I’m able to look back and reflect on the things that have gotten me here. A lot of them are positive and there are some negatives for sure. But I think that’s kind of everybody’s goal is to be able to look back and just be happy with the progress they’ve made and the potential they’ve still got.”

The album’s opening track “Why I’m Drinking” sets an immediate tone for what’s to come, Denning’s unique rasp gliding over a bluesy guitar riff for nearly 90 seconds before full instrumentation kicks in. It’s an immediate ear-catcher before bursting into a full heartbreak ballad, as he proclaims “I’d rather drown this hurt than let it sink in.”

Following in that vein is “I Know How It Sounds,” a stomping uptempo that kicks off with an intro that recalls Jason Aldean’s “Dirt Road Anthem.” It’s the perfect song to lace with pyro for an encore of an energetic show, as Denning is unusually self-aware of his country roots, fully embracing his raising with an unapologetic attitude.

The rock aficionado continues to show that side of his personality and his upbringing on the guitar-and-drum-heavy “Southern Rock,” which pairs him with HARDY. “It’s me. I was born and raised in middle Georgia. The Allman Brothers are a damn subject in school, and I just wanted this song to be an absolute fist-in-the-air anthem to where I come from and how I was raised,” Denning shares. “It’s just as much HARDY’s story, and you can only listen to it all the way up to 10.” 

While Denning may consider himself a metalhead, he also shines at heartbreak. The regretful “Add Her to the List” and “Better at Leaving” are clear examples, clever lyrics atoning the fact that a girl left him alone to drown his sorrows at the bar. “She’s a whole lot better at leaving than me,” He sings.

“Someone That Isn’t Me” follows a similar theme, a twangy, waltzing ballad that finds him longing for the one who got away. “It’s heavy. I actually almost didn’t record this song because I’m like, ‘I’m married. How am I going to get up there and sing it?’ But there’s things we wonder about, whether it’s relationships with people we love, our career or just where we are in life. It’s just the reality we face as humans.”

Nostalgia is another theme on the album, weaving its way through the hometown ode, “Going Places” and the early-2000’s Keith Urban and Rascal Flatts-inspired, “Strawberry Wine and a Cheap Six Pack.” 

“A hand me down Tacoma, with a dent in the side // Ten miles over that county line speed limit sign // Black and mild smoke out on the wind // Hot July moon, I swear that I can hear you singin’ again // First taste of love // No, I couldn’t get enough // Girl, that’s where I go, when I go back // Strawberry wine and a cheap six pack”

Denning tries his hand at universal love on “Her and Here” and “Love You Past That,” an acoustic, wedding-ready song perfect for a first dance. “I wrote it thinking of my wife, and it’s very special to me. It’s just a vow essentially – that no matter where we go, I will love you past the challenges. I will love you past the good. I will love you past forever,” He reveals. “And I just love this song. It came out beautiful.”

Both “Thing I’m Going Through” and “Roads That Go Nowhere” are reflective and introspective, the first recalling a conversation with his father, while the title track is an autobiographical ballad about Denning’s own bumpy path to Nashville and success. “I think anybody who pursues their dreams, they always run into the ‘We can’t wait to say we told you so’s’ – and I had a couple of those. But I turned 31 this past December and while I’m still going strong, I can look over the shoulder now and say ‘Damn, some cool things have happened.’ I guess it does feel good to say ‘I told you so’ after all.”

“That’s a road that goes nowhere // But one got me to Music City // One got me a kiss from a pretty smile, shotgun ridin’ // Now she’s wearing a left-hand diamond // Some dead-ended and turned out wrong // Hell, there’s some that I’m still on // But lookin’ back at that rearview, man, I swear // I’ve gone pretty damn far on them roads that go nowhere”

Both “Can’t Find One” and “The Sound of a Beer Getting Cracked” offer moments of levity, the latter a perfect summer anthem. On it, he enlists country newcomer Josh Ross to throw back a cold one, while “Can’t Find One” is a 90’s-tinted kiss-off that he describes as a cross between the Eagles and Shenandoah. 

The album ends with the poignant and sparse “Ocmulgee River,” Denning’s light vocals coasting over a lone acoustic guitar as he proclaims his love to the land and river that raised him. Of the song, which he penned alone, he says “It’s the river that runs through my hometown. This was the last song we recorded for the project and I knew it would be the last song on the record. I wrote it by myself and it’s just my conversation with where I come from. I have a lot of memories on Westlake Road, which gets name dropped in there, and that’s where I took the album cover. That has just always been a refuge for my soul, and I think everybody gets inspired by the ground they know and they come from. It doesn’t really take explaining, which is good because you really can’t.”  

For Travis Denning, Roads That Go Nowhere is truly a debut that will take him somewhere big. “I still feel like I’ve just barely scraped the surface, but with the love and passion that has gone into this record, I do feel like I’ve taken a next step from a creative standpoint,” he says. “This was a big cohesive group of songs, and I’m just at a point in my life where it made sense to finally do it. I hope people hear it and say, that’s a Travis Denning record – and nobody else could have made it.”

Roads That Go Nowhere Track List:

  1. Why I’m Drinking (Josh Kerr, Jon Nite, Cole Taylor)
  2. I Know How It Sounds (Travis Denning, Will Bundy, Chase McGill)
  3. Better At Leaving (Travis Denning, Jared Hampton, Tripp Howell)
  4. Strawberry Wine And A Cheap Six Pack (Travis Denning, Thomas Archer, Paul DiGiovanni, Jerry Flowers)
  5. Going Places (Travis Denning, Paul DiGiovanni, Matt Mulhare, Jeremy Stover)
  6. Someone That Isn’t Me (Travis Denning, Paul DiGiovanni, Blake Pendergrass, Bobby Pinson)
  7. Southern Rock (Featuring Hardy) (Travis Denning, Jessi Alexander, Chase McGill)
  8. Love You Past That (Travis Denning, Bobby Pinson, Chris Stevens, Jeremy Stover)
  9. Things I’m Going Through (Jordan Dozzi, Matt Mulhare)
  10. Add Her To The List (Paul DiGiovanni, Bobby Pinson, Jeremy Stover)
  11. Roads That Go Nowhere (Travis Denning, Ben Foster, James McNair)
  12. The Sound Of A Beer Getting Cracked (Featuring Josh Ross) (Travis Denning, Will Bundy, Chase McGill)
  13. Can’t Find One (Travis Denning, Chase McGill, Chris Stevens, Jeremy Stover)
  14. Here And Her (Travis Denning, Ben Johnson, Cole Taylor)
  15. Ocmulgee River (Travis Denning)

Country Swag Picks:

  1. Strawberry Wine And A Cheap Six Pack
  2. Why I’m Drinking
  3. Love You Past That
  4. Roads That Go Nowhere

Travis Denning shares debut album, ‘Roads That Go Nowhere,’ out now on all streaming platforms.

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Roads That Go Nowhere is now available everywhere you buy or stream music. Take a listen below and check out more new recently released music here on our ‘New Country Music’ playlist. Be sure to give the playlist a follow for your weekly new country music fix.