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Dead Man Winter Dead Man Winter
Album: Furnace
Label: Thirty Tigers
Tracks: 10

Taking a break from Trampled By Turtles, Dave Simonett returns to release his second album under the pseudonym Dead Man Winter. It's a deeply personal record, following in the tradition of albums like Blood On The Tracks and Blue by documenting the fallout of a relationship breakdown, in this case Simonett's marriage of ten years.

The tone is set perfectly with the opening track, This House Is On Fire. Sounding a little Radiohead, it's a mournful but brilliant opening, full of despair and beauty:

"This house is on fire, and I can't escape it
I'm lonely and tired, no will left to fake it
You know it makes no sense
Where all the good times went
This house is on fire, and I'm not getting out"

Destroyer sounds a more upbeat song, but the lyrics are just as devastating and guilt-laden. Red Wing Blue Wing is a great folk rock record that feels light-hearted in comparison to the songs that preceded it. This is one of the strengths of the album on display from the beginning, this contrast between heavy and heart-wrenching lyrics, and the lighter, almost buoyant melodies that accompany them.

No matter what depths the album descends to, it never becomes a miserable listen. The darkest point is probably the melancholic Cardinal, but while the lyrics are full of despair, it's full of stark beauty. It's immediately followed by the confessional Am I Breaking Down which has similar weight to its words, but has a lightness of touch to the music that lifts us back from the deep somewhat.

It finishes with the wonderful one-two of Weight Of The World and You Are Out Of Control, both of which are reminiscent of Heartbreaker era Ryan Adams. The latter is a song of few words, but they certainly hit home; "I am not okay, what else can I say?" The song ends with a four minute instrumental that perfectly encapsulates the maelstrom of emotions which sometimes can't be put into words.

It's only January, and there's a lot of music to come, but this is a very early candidate for album of the year. Furnace is hauntingly beautiful, and the melodies will stay with you for a long time. It will certainly be one I'll be returning to time and time again.

Adam Jenkins