Dave Simonett: Red Tail
Dave Simonett is best known as the singer and songwriter for the progressive bluegrass band Trampled by Turtles, and his rocking side project, Dead Man Winter. He calls Red Tail his official solo debut, although a number of friends supply occasional guitar, piano, bass and drums throughout the album’s tracks. That said, the album’s spotlight stays on Simonett’s vocals, his oblique lyrics and virtuosity on acoustic and electric guitar. Most of the songs dwell on failed relationships and those that continue on despite a lack of communication. But Simonett’s melodies sprinkle shards of light onto even his darkest scenarios. Sustained electric guitar notes that suggest the sound of a pedal steel give a country flavor to “Pisces, Queen of Hearts.” The singer ponders the end of a long-gone romance and confesses that, despite the time gone by, “I feel a weakness when I hear your name.” There’s some true soul searching on “It Comes and Goes,” as Simonett describes a long-term relationship marked by giddy highs and upsetting lows. His bright acoustic picking drifts over the shimmering, ambient tones he produces on his electric guitar to increase the tension of the unresolved feelings he’s expressing. A long instrumental coda, that’s all tension and no release, amplifies the hopelessness of the situation. The album closer “There’s a Lifeline Deep in the Night Sky,” is a secular hymn carried along by a gospel-like grand piano and Simonett’s acoustic strumming. He invited 13 friends into the studio to provide a communal feel to the chorus. After bit of music is played, they begin laughing and talking, finishing the album on an uplifting note.