Deer Tick – The Black Dirt Sessions Deer Tick – The Black Dirt Sessions

Deer Tick – The Black Dirt Sessions

Deer Tick – The Black Dirt Sessions

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Deer Tick is a band revered for their feverishly energetic live performance. Years of touring, then seems to have tired them out.  On The Black Dirt Sessions the songs are mostly slow, at times feeling lethargic. This isn’t to say the songs are bad, however. On the contrary, their sluggishness may just be what saves them from feeling trite. They don’t sound like a band that has become lazy, or bored. The album sounds like a band playing songs about being tired, while the musicians themselves actually are tired. This creates an unexpected earnestness.  While the songs about love, struggle and isolation are meant to be taken seriously, the undertone of apathy turns them into a completely different experience.

The only moment of real energy comes during the closing minutes of “Mange”. With its sudden burst, this instrumental explosion turns an already great song into the highlight of the album.  It really takes you by surprise, coming out of nowhere and disappearing just as quick. Placed brilliantly, exactly in the middle of the album, it illuminates the idea that Deer Tick is a band that has grown tired yet still tries so hard.  They’ve worked up just enough energy for this one moment, and once it’s over they sound exhausted again.

Unfortunately, the tracks that feel unnecessary on this album are the opener “Choir of Angels” and the closer “Christ Jesus”. It feels awkward to start an album and immediately skip the first track. Similarly, it leaves a feeling of incompleteness to not listen to the last track. “Choir of Angels”, an extremely pop-driven ballad, could not fit anywhere but as the opener, but it does such a poor job of setting up the feel of the album that it should have been cut altogether. “Christ Jesus” is actually a great song, and happens to be the perfect closer to this album. The problem? It was the closer on their first album. Yes, it is reworked, and has a slight different feel to it (yet both are slow and feel deeply personal), but I’ve never been a fan of a band redoing their own songs, especially just a few years later.

While certain aspects of this album are great (a clear window into apathy, a few songs here and there) they aren’t enough to hold the album together. The apathy, although incredibly interesting to listen to, seems accidental.  The few great songs accentuate the faults of the others. Overall, while The Black Dirt Sessions is an enjoyable listen, there is no ignoring the flaws. The flaws don’t kill the album, but they definitely don’t bring it to life either.

The Black Dirt Sessions Tracklist:
01. Choir of Angels
02. Twenty Miles
03. Goodbye, Dear Friend
04. Piece By Piece, Frame By Frame
05. Sad Sun
06. Mange
07. When She Comes Home
08. Hand In My Hand
09. I Will Not Be Myself
10. Blood Moon
11. Christ Jesus

Deer Tick – The Black Dirt Sessions, reviewed by Daniel G on 2010-09-07T11:01:21-07:00 rating 3.0 out of 5

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