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The Black Dirt Sessions

4.5 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Audio CD, June 8, 2010
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Editorial Reviews

Deer Tick is the songwriting project or band (depending on how you look at it) of John McCauley, a singer/songwriter based out of Providence, Rhode Island. Thanks to the help of Brendon "Viking Moses" Massei, McCauley has been ferociously zig-zagging across the United States, hitting all the sparsely attended basement shows, smoky bars, upscale joints, small to medium size festivals, and everything in between, since April of 2005.

McCauley takes his cues from legendary songwriters such as Townes Van Zant, Neil Young and Ritchie Valens, and big stage personalities like Sammy Davis Jr., and Tony Bennett. Like Tony Bennett, McCauley loves the art of vocal projection and will often perform without the aid of microphones, but for his whole set. His influences are something that set his live shows apart from most other acts. The Deer Tick experience is something that can be fun and heart wrenching at the same time. The performance is usually riddled with jokes, but always with a genuine and serious message that is delivered sincerely to the listener.

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 8, 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Partisan Records
  • ASIN: B003G7DSGC
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #68,516 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I have been a long time Deer Tick fan, and about 1 out of 3 people I show them too are not terribly impressed. Maybe its John's harsh unconventional voice, or country pickin', or they are turned off because a new and well respected band is doing little to nothing to be "hip". After this initial dislike, I play Deer Tick around them enough, they always seem to come around. There is just an honestly, and infectious nature to John's songwriting and singing that is undeniable. They may not give a darn about their image, or if anything try to counteract this falseness that seems to loom around even some of the best bands, and get back to what was so great about early rock and roll. The Black Dirt Sessions keeps this trueness so to speak, and is my favorite of their album's to date. Something that "Black Dirt" has that neither War Elephant or Born on Flag Day is a cohesiveness and seriousness that was needed for the boys from RI, to fully mature as a band. Its not nearly as rambunctious as their previous albums, and certainly not as much as their Ep - More fuel for the Fire. But thats okay. It is a beautiful demonstration that they are capable of a variety of song types, and should not be disregarded in those respects. Mr. McCauley writes from a much more personal place, and lets us see a whole new side of Deer Tick.
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By Mike on January 10, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I am a new Deer Tick fan, with The Black Dirt Sessions being the first album of theirs I own. A very raw and authentic sound and listening experience. I truly enjoy artists who put it out there, and don't care about air play and/or commercial success, and the song writing here is very good. I like the band, but suggest you listen to a couple of cuts before you buy, to make sure you are getting what you expect. I like them, and hope you do too.
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Format: Audio CD
While evoking the music of the '70s is seldom meant as a compliment, the tone and energy that Deer Tick create on "The Black Dirt Sessions" sound inspired by and soaked in the dark underbelly of that hedonistic decade. Not the cocaine, disco, swinger underbelly, but the neighborhood bar, smoky room, a local band drinking whiskey and pouring their heart out in the dark corner underbelly, and Deer Tick is that band in the corner. John McCauley's voice sounds like a young Tom Waits, verging on slipping into a country Bob Dylan. His every vocal drips with cigarette smoke, jail time, and a dozen broken hearts. This is an emotionally intense album, with McCauley pouring his soul out on each track while the band maintains a steady mid-tempo stomp, walking the path somewhere between garage rock and outlaw country. On "Goodbye Dear Friend" and the album closing "Christ Jesus", the band steps back and its essentially voice and piano only, evoking healthy images of last call and one final song of heartache. When the band does step up and put a little swagger in their step, the result sounds like the Marshall Tucker Band ("Can't You See", specifically), except the song ending guitar solo is a pleasant surprise.
While the band's live shows are known for their intensity (in which the acoustic "Christ Jesus" transforms into a noisy rocker), here Deer Tick has managed to capture much of that same emotion and put it in these songs. It is a low-key album, and probably won't make you want to get up and dance, but in the same way Tom Waits, Neil Young, and others injected simple musical ideas with unbelievable rawness, Deer Tick does the same here. This is a solid album and marks a definite growth in maturity from the last two.
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Format: MP3 Music
Like many I absolutely loved the previous album 'Born on flag day'Born On Flag Day and so was really looking forward to this one. It starts off reasonably well with 'Choir of Angels' being almost reminiscent of `Crying Shame from their first release `War Elephant', but it does go a bit maudlin on track 3 'Goodbye Dear Friend', which does exactly what it says on the tin. The same could also be levelled at `Mange', but the strangest thing is a reprise of 'Christ Jesus' which was on 'War Elephant' and seems to run counter to the general up beatness that we have come to expect from John Joseph McCauley III and co. Can not think of a reason for getting the import other than the UK release unless I clicked on the wrong one so a big oops for me.

That said 'When she comes home' is just brilliant and I don't think I can ever tire of hearing it. As has been commented elsewhere they are a force to be reckoned with live, even with a power failure as happened at End Of The Road Festival in 2010 (their second of three sets) and they joined the wonderful Phosphorescent on stage who kindly repaid the compliment to them on backing vocals.

Whilst it is not a real change in direction it is a change of pace but I feel they are still cutting their teeth and I firmly feel that they have better to come (hence not 5 stars) but would suggest getting Born on Flag Day first and if that grabs you then you would be twattish not to indulge in this one.
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By Jamie on January 18, 2011
Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
I got the song Twenty Miles for free for some promotion, and couldn't get enough of it. So I though I would check out the rest of the album, and luckily enough, I was equally pleased by the rest of the tracks. I would definitely recommend it. He's got an amazing voice, and there are some really beautiful songs on here.
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