Dead Man Winter : Bright Lights

“I’m hollow and holy, just like a man.”

Oooof.  When I heard that lyric from “A Long, Cold Night In Minneapolis,” the third track off of Dead Man Winter’s recent release, Bright Lights, it felt like a shot to the solar plexus.  The track, which would become my favorite song of 2011, is somber and contemplative, routinely lending itself to the question of what makes me both hollow and holy.  Such introspection makes this tune both delightful and, from time to time, somewhat unsettling.

Dead Man Winter is the side project of Dave Simonett, guitarist and front man for Minnesota bluegrassers Trampled By Turtles.  Prior to delving in the acoustic world with Trampled By Turtles, Simonett was a practitioner of the music electric, and Dead Man Winter is a diversion, or return, to his more amplified days.  While tunes like “Where In The World Have You Been?,” and the aforementioned “A Long Cold Night In Minneapolis” are acoustic gems, Simonett plugs in to reveal his more rollicking side on tracks like the disc opener, “Nicotine,”  “House of Glory,” and the outstanding “Industrial Daybreak.”

Fans of Trampled By Turtles will also be stoked to hear Dead Man Winter’s electrified take on the Trampled By Turtles favorite, “New Orleans.”

Like so many of my other favorite musicians – The Avett Brothers, Chatham County Line – that ply their trade acoustically, the occasional dabbling in the world of amplifiers is a welcome respite from the norm.  While I certainly don’t want Simonett to veer completely away from his work with Trampled By Turtles, regular installments from Dead Man Winter are now much anticipated.

Bright Lights is out now on Banjodad/Thirty Tigers.