released June 8th, 2010
from the album - Twenty Miles
from all music
John McCauley, the songwriter behind the Deer Tick moniker, grew up in Providence, RI, where he began his career by teaching himself to play drums, guitar, piano, and pedal steel. McCauley started recording his own compositions and touring the area while still in high school, and he widened his circle after graduation by touring the entire country. Although he'd often perform solo, the young musician also began piecing together a proper band, occasionally playing as a duo with drummer Dennis Ryan or with a small group. His music fit loosely into the alt-country category, but his vocals — rough, raw, and ragged — brought a wealth of rock and grunge influences to the sound. Following the September 2007 release of his first CD, War Elephant, McCauley's Deer Tick project began earning comparisons to Bright Eyes, Modest Mouse, and Uncle Tupelo. Although originally released via FEOW! Records, War Elephant was reissued in late 2008 by Partisan Records. Deer Tick remained with that label during the course of two follow-up albums, 2009's Born on Flag Day and 2010's The Black Dirt Sessions.
The Black Dirt Sessions, Deer Tick’s third full studio album, combines the easy balladry and boozy rock tunes of the band’s prior two releases, but does away with the old-timey blues and country influences. The new sound of the group, which includes new member Ian O’ Neil of Titus Andronicus on guitar, is contemporary and sincere. Vocalist John McCauley, the chief songwriter of the group, seems to have found his own distinct voice and is comfortable reeling back and singing quietly, harnessing his muscular, grainy timbre into a sweet instrument. The first half of the album never breaks a sweat, concentrating solely on stripped-down, melancholy ballads. Side two breaks away from the acoustic aspects, and kicks up a laid-back Nashville groove with honky tonk piano, Stonesy guitar riffs, and classic Americana harmonies. McCauley sounds liberated, calling up ‘70s hooks and harmonies that feel classic without being overtly retro. For The Black Dirt Sessions, the sepia tones are faded and less distracting. Songs written to sound like old pub standards helped to gain the group attention, but these heartfelt tunes gleam with McCauley’s individuality.
1 Choir of Angels McCauley 2:54
2 Twenty Miles McCauley 3:43
3 Goodbye, Dear Friend McCauley 4:58
4 Piece by Piece and Frame by Frame McCauley 4:09
5 The Sad Sun McCauley 4:34
6 Mange McCauley 5:16
7 When She Comes Home McCauley 3:53
8 Hand in My Hand McCauley 4:31
9 I Will Not Be Myself McCauley 3:22
10 Blood Moon McCauley 4:40
11 Christ Jesus McCauley 4:32