Published Mar 10, 2020Mysterious mist; crisp, dewy air; the encroaching dawn's warmth — this is the setting evoked by Dave Simonett and his backing band on Red Tail. It's a strong solo debut by the seasoned, Minneapolis-based songsmith (after a couple of releases as Dead Man Winter), best known for fronting the bluegrass band Trampled by Turtles for the past two decades.
This time around he strikes a more modern, hazy alt-folk vibe. Simonett's backing band is indispensible in that regard, especially his pedal steel player, who forgoes tradition and instead gives off a shimmering, heartstring rattling amount of reverb on songs like "Revoked" and "Silhouette."
Effective as that instrument is, Simonett is wise enough to use it strategically, for climactic effect. In the pedal steel's absence, more minimal songs like "It Comes and Goes" are given room to breathe and revel in intricacy. That song features one of Simonett's best one-liners paired with the perfect instrument: "Let's shake off the sadness" he sings, over plaintively plucked guitar strings. "By the Light of the Moon" is even more stripped-back, putting Simonett's plain-spokenly on-point lyrics front and centre. It amounts to a highly hummable sing-along well suited for you and your pals at this summer's campfires.
Yes, with a mixture of haunting pedal steel, warmly inviting acoustic guitar and ever-relatable lyrics, Simonett soars out from under Trampled by Turtles' well-established shadow with Red Tail. (Thirty Tigers)