Dead Man Winter’s new album Bright Lights makes primarily for easy listening. Inoffensive acoustic guitar and chilled beats characterize the majority of the tracks on this album. Some heavier than others, the lyrics are pleasantly predictable and the content largely generic. The first track, Nicotine, is an example of such penning: “It’s not a good time for me / Can’t you see that now?” Not really sure of the profundity of that statement, but it definitely sounds nice on the record.
The instrumentation is gorgeous, with plenty of strings and a little harmonica here and there, ensuring that it sounds just the right balance of expertly-mixed-dingy-pub-basement-live-set. Dave Simonett, the lead singer from Trampled by Turtles, carries the vocals with an unassuming confidence. Showcased at their best in A Cold Night in Minneapolis, his is a perfectly imperfect way of singing his songs. Just as they were written, they are sung in a confessional way. As Simonett admits to the loneliness he has felt, to the nostalgia he feels for bygone days and paths already trodden in Where in the World Have You Been?, we do believe him. It’s music to sway to, but music with a heart.
These are catchy, mostly upbeat songs which flow through your consciousness, and don’t force you to sit up and listen to the message. They plod along, perfectly enjoyable, but quite happily not life-altering or groundbreaking. The press spiel claims that the songs on this album make you want to join in with the band, to “drink a few beers and maybe [sip] some whiskey to stave off the cold and fire the brain”. I’m not convinced that it did much to fire my brain, but it did kind of make me want to kick back with a beer on a porch in Minnesota. Not too shabby, really!
Bright Lights is released on August 16th, via Banjodad and Thirty Tigers Records