About a year ago I discovered Deertick. Their album ‘Born On Flag Day’ seemed to appear on my radar from nowhere – I think it was one of my myspace trawling sessions. Anyway, appear it did and I was hooked. I saw them live at Sneaky Pete’s and the rawness of their alt country sound and the performance that night stuck with me. A great album and a great live band too. But I must admit, I was quite surprised when I discovered that they had released another album so soon after ‘Born On Flag Day’. It didn’t feel like that record had time to mature, to develop, to be heard. Or maybe I came late to it. Either way before I blinked Uncut were reviewing this new record.
The Black Dirt Sessions had a hard act to follow simply because Born On Flag Day was such a good, raw, rock and roll record. I’m not sure if a band can mature in a year, I guess maybe touring allows growth as you play songs and begin to understand them better. Again I am speculating but somehow there is a different feel to this record altogether. It feels like the band are all grown up now. Given that the lead singer is sponsored by a sunglasses firm and on stage in Edinburgh wore a playboy wooly hat and playboy watch I find the grown up thing a little difficult to swallow*. However, it is certainly more mature in terms of music and this album is a gem. No doubt about it.
It starts slowly without any real impact but bursts to life with the stunning ‘Goodbye, Dear Friend’ a beautiful piano lead ballad, which more renowned songwriters would be proud to call their own. And, from this point on it really is hard to fault the record. Duet ‘The Sad Sun’ is another gem of a track, contemplating life and love and death.
The album still has the country blues, rock moments of its predecessor, such as ‘When She Comes Home’. These moments are very necessary but also beautifully incorporated into a record, which for the most part is a much darker affair than Born On Flag Day. The tone and content of the record feels much bleaker than before, more contemplative, more sombre. And I for one think the band have benefitted from this as I think this record is a step forward, a progression and a real improvement on the previous one. Sometimes it’s hard for a good time band to make a transition in sound like this but Deertick achieve it perfectly. Album closer ‘Christ Jesus’ feels like a band ready to take on the world. Watch this space. I’m sure that Deertick have the weapons in their armoury to be massive. I certainly hope that this record gets the plaudits that it merits. I can’t think of many better alt country rock records. Have a listen yourselves here. Enjoy.
*Here’s an example of what I’m talking about: