10 years in and a decade of experience sure gives Sinners ‘n’ Freaks from Dead Winter Carpenters a sense of accomplishment and artistry. From Sunnyside-Tahoe City, Calif., Dead Winter Carpenters are warm, Americana troubadours. Sinners ‘n’ Freaks, a five-track EP,
chalk full of splendid tunes.
Dead Winter Carpenters is made up of Jesse Dunn (guitar, vocals), Jenni Charles (fiddle, vocals), Jeremy Plog (bass, vocals), Nick Swimley (guitar, vocals) and Brendan Smith (drums, vocals). Sinners ‘n’ Freaks is produced by Dead Winter Carpenters and Matt Baxter, and recorded and mixed at Baxter’s Ranch Recording (Auburn, Calif.). It’s the group’s fifth studio effort.
The title track is jolly song – with nods to the influence of Neil Young, Grateful Dead and Townes Van Zandt. What made this song even more appealing is the bright fiddle playing. It’s quite alluring, as it trickles through the percussion and lyrics. A male voice sings “make any honest man go blind” and then “broken hearted cast out onto the streets.” The thought goes to what island of misfits has this music profession created? It’s like a rambling’ mix of heavy percussion and gorgeous keys.
“Time Off The Bottle” tones things down quite a bit. It’s assumed that Charles is the voice singing, her intimate voice almost sounds heartbreaking as she sings “and it pains me to say this out loud…maybe I could use some little time off the bottle.” The somber fiddle plays lightly, with a more lethargic backing band filling in the spaces. This song channels a lot of feelings for the listener. Being an addict, and alcoholic is one thing, but the humanist side to this song is tragedy and triumph all-at-once. The lyrics pinpoint a story and it’s hard to forget.
“Cornerstone” has many comparisons, again, to a Young sound, but The Band vibe is really strong here. Back to a male voice, the lyrics “shinin’ in the light of the harvest moon” is just one line in a thrilling song tale. Dead Winter Carpenters excel at a lot of things – and lyrics is at the top of the list. This song centers the listener and allows opportunities to reflect and respond.
In the gorgeous and poignant “Lift Me Up” the fiddle is just mesmerizing. This is a softer ballad and the lyrics “I don’t know to laugh or cry right now, lift me up, and hold me for a while, love me like a father to a child” is engaging and makes the listener feel so connected to this story. It’s emotional, and the slow-dance of a song feels cathartic.
Finally in “Green Room Baby” it’s a whopper of a good time. The upbeat song is beyond fun. I loved the tickling keys, and the bop vibe. “She’s the green room baby living the life on the road,” go the lyrics. Just by the song alone, Dead Winter Carpenters state their case for a fantastical life on the road. Roaring guitars, steady beat and a toe-tapping’ time – what a way to wrap up the EP.