Haggins’ songs remain solidly rooted in the traditions of country blues, soul and gospel — the soil that grounds and nourishes his fast-blooming songwriting gift — without replowing territory that has already been thoroughly turned. They manage to feel fresh but familiar at the same time. His most recent songs in particular (many of which appear on Heavenly Rose) reflect this penchant for paradox: precisely crafted but emotionally direct, plain-spoken but beautifully sung, street-smart but still vulnerable, sad without being maudlin, funny without being cruel, able to confess pain without seeking pity, steely-eyed but ever tender. Even in Dwayne’s most serious moments, we sense that fun lurks impatiently just around the next musical bend.
And ultimately it is his uniquely expressive voice that not only allows these apparent contradictions to coexist, but in the process reveals them to be two inevitable sides of the same coin. The singing is exhilaratingly elastic but the emotions it expresses are not — the voice bends, but the heart breaks.