Springing back into the fray, Ann Arbor-born master of noise gets the blues but sees the light.
There’s nothing strange about this album’s title betraying the record’s creator’s impatience because Deniz Tek’s never liked to stop – yet lockdowns limited his ability to stray from the beaten path and surprise his listener so, sequestered in his Hawaiian abode, the veteran somewhat reinvented the familiar approach to melodies and arrangements to render “Long Before Day” an expression of warm rawness, which is quite relevant in our current circumstances. Perhaps, it was Tek’s pre-pandemic stint with THE STOOGES’ James Williamson that inspired former RADIO BIRDMAN leader to establish a proper guitar twine with his spouse Anne not only on-stage but also in the studio, and Deniz wisely took advantage of the familial bond to shape an arresting array of highly relatable songs – the devil’s dozen of pieces touching on adventure and protest in equal measure.
Still, for all its challenging stance, the chugging opener “Taking One For The Team” seems rather tongue-in-cheek, the number’s slider-caressed twang propelling Tek’s smoky voice towards smiling horizon, while the booming “Ballad Of Chief Joseph” smells of rez-based dignity, Deniz’s six-string passages filling the air with sweet, spaghetti-western anxiety, before the muddy licks and acoustic strum of “Speak Of Ice” – sourced from a fourteenth century Persian poetry and Delta idiom – introduce a bluesy frown to the flow and allow Bob Brown’s bass and THE FLESHTONES’ founder Keith Streng’s drums lay down a pulsing groove. However, if “Home” has garage-bound bliss attached to a jangly rumble, and the fatigued finale “Where” ships friendly vocals into the time-tested sunset, for a rendezvous with the tropes-infused, infectious title track that’s given a harmonica solo, the gloomy riff of “1984 Again” is defiantly serious, whereas the punchy, patinated “Mother Earth” is ecologically-minded, yet funny as well. And if the raucous “Truck And Roll” pulls all the stops in its insistent, Chuck-like rocking, and the raga-tinged “Rear View Mirror” shakes the dust from one’s mind, the rough-hewn “Close To You” and the effervescent “You Cry” feel immensely endearing,
In this context, don’t expect “Ain’t Gonna (Stand For That)” to be another demonstration of Tek’s sociopolitical slant: this glitterball cut struts its instrumental wares with a lot of gusto but not a single lyric in sight, except for a half-buried refrain that will surface in the end. The end in question should signal the tunnel’s mouth, a place whence light is glimpsed long before the day – a place for Deniz to let his fantasy run free.