If you happened to download the free copy of Brett Detar’s solo album Bird in the Tangle, you might have been expecting something very different from what you got. I know I was.
Detar is probably most well-known as the lead singer of the late 90’s-early 2000’s post-hardcore indie rock band The Juliana Theory. At least that’s where I knew him from. In fact, I’ll be honest, I didn’t know him until I got in my email a message regarding an interview A(lternative)P(ress) Magazine had done with Detar regarding his solo album. Oh! This guy was the brains behind The Juliana Theory. I loved The Juliana Theory. Hey, wouldya look at that! He’s giving away free digital albums on his website.
Step one, download. Step two, load into Winamp. Step three, press play. Step four, read bio, listen to ZAO, listen to Pensive, wonder if something went wrong in the download. Expecting the pop-emo-rock sounds that got me through my college years, I was taken aback by the old country sounds of banjoes, steel guitars, even a waltz – track five This City Dies Tonight – littered throughout Bird in the Tangle.
Bird in the Tangle opens with Empty House on a Famous Hill, somber, melancholy with the chorus, “In a dark empty house on a famous old hill. If they don’t love you now, they never will. ‘Cause, if you sell your heart to their empty souls, you’ll be vacant like this house upon the hill.”
On his MySpace (http://www.myspace.com/brettdetarmusic), Detar mentions being influenced by HBO’s series Deadwood, and that influence is strong in track two, The Devil’s Gotta Earn and track four, Road to Ruin Woman.
Bird in the Tangle, the solo effort by Brett Detar is one part Mudcrutch (in fact, there are parts on some of the songs – track six, Coasts, for one – where Detar’s voice drifts into a nasalized slur that strongly resembles Petty’s), one part Gillian Welch if Gillian Welch was a man, one part chain gang work song (listed on MySpace as “Roots Music”), one part Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits and no parts Juliana Theory, even less ZAO or Pensive. While I do have some Gillian Welch, some Christian Kane, some Johnny Cash in my library, the folk southern country rock twang isn’t a sound I listen to unless I am in a very special kind of mood, I think I have to say kudos to Detar for striking out on his own and doing what Theory fans might never have expected of him.
The full album is currently available for download, for free, from BrettDetar.com. For $10, you can upgrade to an HD quality download with four bonus tracks. If you are a fan of the folk country rock sound and are looking for something new, I will not dissuade you from checking out the solo effort from Brett Detar.