Dead Man Winter

Dead Man Winter – Furnace (album review)

by Woody on January 27, 2017

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This is the second LP by Dead Man Winter, the “side project” of Trampled By Turtles front-man, Dave Simonett. While the first, Bright Lights, was an enjoyable listen, it felt like a diversion from TBT to play some electric guitars with a backbeat. Furnace is much more than that.

Fueled by the dissolution of his marriage, Furnace sees Simonett getting personal on an album that really resonates. Simonett initially approached the album with a scatter-shot approach and he wasn’t happy with results. He then enlisted friends from the MN music scene and holed up at Pachyderm Studios, a place that is half studio and half chalet. With his personal life in a bit of turmoil, the ability to be on lockdown and concentrate on nothing else was a welcome respite; and it comes through on the album.

Nobody likes to hear about the break-up a marriage, especially when children are involved. Simonett drags you in with the lyrics and his delivery. It’s an exhausting but rewarding album, as you feel like you’ve lived every minute with the family and Simonett doesn’t shy away from looking inward for the blame. Destroyer, while upbeat and buoyed by some tasty organ licks, is really some brutal introspection.

On Bright Lights, Simonett sang as if he didn’t know how the TBT fans would react; almost a bit unsure of himself. Furnace, sees a more confident artist, in spite of suffering through a tough time in his life.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

Dead Man Winter is here

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Dave Simonett, aka Dead Man Winter, is better known as the front man of Trampled By Turtles. Furnace finds Simonett after the ending of his marriage and a hiatus from TBT. He’s releasing his s

Furnace marks a whole lot of firsts for the accomplished songwriter. It’s his first time putting his long-running, popular string band, Trampled by Turtles, on hiatus to focus all of his efforts on a more personal project. It’s his first time speaking so plainly and literally about something happening in his private life. And it’s his first time dedicating an entire record to a single topic — a topic so significant and intimate that he questioned whether or not he should even release it into the world.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

Dead Man Winter is here

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Dead Man Winter is the country-rock side project of the Minnesota Bluegrass band, Trampled By Turtles. TxT’s Dave Simonett, Ryan Young and Tim Saxhaug are joined by drummer Noah Levy and country blues guitarist Erik Koskinen to escape a world of acoustic bluegrass and enter a realm where electric guitars and amps are front and center and down tempo country songs are right at home.

If you aren’t a Trampled By Turtles fan, visit our live session and get acclimated. If you fancy yourself a fan already, then you undoubtedly appreciate the combination of songwriting and warm vocals offered by Dave Simonett. Those traits are put to the test in Dead Man Winter. While the band is still incredible, it lacks the frenzied bluegrass pace and performance of the Trampled By Turtles collective that can sometimes distract you from the lead vocalist and his lyrics. Thus, Simonette is thrust to the forefront.

The album opens with their single, “Nicotine.” It has all the catchy traits of a pop song, fueled by electric guitars and fiddle. The lighthearted country-jam “Wasteland” follows with sounds of fiddle floating above bouncing bass lines and lyrics:

Religion scares me daily.
Just the wind and the water can save me.
It’s just me and the stars tonight.

The fiddle and acoustic are thrown out and brash rock n’ roll emerges a couple songs later in “Get Low.” This song is all about big guitar riffs and percussion. Another highlight on the album is Dead Man Winter’s alternate version of Trampled By Turtles’ song “New Orleans” that was also performed on our live session. I want to high-five Erik Koskinen for this. His guitar owns this song and converted it into a song that could be owned by Willie Nelson.

But for all the album’s best moments, I’m most drawn to Dave Simonett’s ballads. “Where In The World Have You Been?” and  “Bright Lights” are desolate and incredible pieces of acoustic songwriting. After hearing that this was a Trampled By Turtles side project, I admit that I wasn’t quite prepared for the change in sound on Dead Man Winter. After allowing it to grow on me for a few weeks, It’s safe to say that I’ve developed a serious crush – to the point that I can’t listen to much else.

Dead Man Winter – Nicotine

Trampled By Turtles – New Orleans (HearYa Live Session version)

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