Grab your stetson and lasso and let them wagons roll as Brett Detar takes us out into the wide blue yonder for some camp fire classics
Bird in the Tangle © Brett Detar
Contrary to the less than profound and heart-warmingly cutesy-poo blurb above, Brett Detar’s Bird in the Tangle is not a saturated, Malborough Man oriented country album. Instead Detar’s obvious talents, and love for a genre that has often been at the butt end of jokes for its over romanticized notions, are lent more towards a deliciously sinister and vibrantly honest approach to country music.
With a career that is deceptively longer than his 32 years would suggest, Brett Detar’s musical journey has seen him helm and participate in a number of bands such as Pensive and Zao in the later half of the 1990s. It was not until he formed a side-project with fellow musicians Chad Alan, Joshua Fiedler, Neil Hebrank, and Jeremiah Momper forming The Juliana Theory that Detar would find stability in his musical direction. Touring and recording material for nine years up until 2006 with a spate of recent reunion shows having taken place in August of this year.
With this vast musical resume behind him, Detar now ventures into the solo artist world. Since the breakup of The Juliana Project, Detar amassed a number of songs from his every day dealings and with the financial backing and time ready to dedicate to such a project, Bird in the Tangle is the end result.
The album opens with a trio of vastly different and highly enjoyable country numbers; “Empty House on a Famous Hill,” “The Devil’s Gotta’ Earn,” and “It’s Only the Night” a hauntingly serene ode to the long gone, misty eyed past of the old west debauchery and lament. These opening tracks have a wonderfully gifted infusion of alternative country mixed with traditional slide and guitar techniques normally associated with this type of music. However, Detar’s lonesome vocals give a 21st century indie feel to the overall concept and subject matters.
“Coasts,” and “Cocaine Whiskey and Heroin” are much more upbeat, enjoyable ventures into Bluegrass and Americana anthems. The latter of which is a wonderful pseudo lament to the foibles of the human condition, a vague warning that the vices and enjoyment of dizzying highs can be all too much for one person to endure. It’s up tempo and toe tapping optimism however flashes a roguish wink to the listener and audience that it might not all be bad.
Closing the album are a trio of sinister sounding, raspingly vocal tracks shine as wonderful examples of Detar’s passion and raw musical ability leant to a 21st century twist on country music. “We’re Broken but we’ll Never Be Alone,” and the final track “This World aint got Nothing” are two microcosms of Detar’s sound and ambience the artist has created for himself and listeners.
Although this frankly realistic and post post modern take on a genre littered with self detaching clichés is refreshingly honest, Bird on the Tangle tends to let itself down a little on the originality front. Standing at an adventurous eleven tracks long there is a stark sense of repetition when it comes to both subject matter and delivery of tone, vocal and musical arrangement. The tracks “Empty House on a Famous Hill,” “Caged Bird” and “This World aint got Nothing,” all have the same slow, lethargic pace that feels all to familiar by the time the album closes. This is of course a staple of the Country and Americana genres but to be placed on a debut album does not entirely encourage listeners to pursue further avenues.
The album on a whole however is a very enjoyable and interesting twist on a scene that can be often overlooked as being a serious and inspiring collection of artists and work. Too often is the country genre associated with the rose tinted spectacles of Kenny Baker, Dolly Parton and Glen Campell, each with their crotch hugging, bra bursting rhinestone outfits and perfectly permed hair leering at us from the stage singing about dead dogs. Bird in the Tangle is a much more realistic, deeply brooding album filled with eclectic and indolent tracks that would be more at place amongst the dysentery riddled high plains. Indeed this is an album more suited to 2011’s “True Grit” audience than the 1969 version.
The album is available for a short period of time on free download via the official site. This is also home to all the usual tour, bio, discography and album sales information: http://www.brettdetar.com/