Dave Simonett, frontman and songwriter for Trampled by Turtles, found a type of therapy in his solo project Dead Man Winter, particularly in the 2017 release of Furnace. Following the end of his 10-year marriage, Simonett opened himself up like never before, pouring his heart and soul out on record and on stage. He managed to unearth some type of closure in the midst of such deep pain, and he even allowed that experience to propel him into the writing and recording of Trampled by Turtles’ 2018 release, Life Is Good on the Open Road.
Now, with no Trampled by Turtles album on the horizon, Simonett has dropped the Dead Man Winter moniker for Red Tail, his first-ever collection of songs released under his name. While a songwriter like Simonett can never quite disconnect himself from crafting particularly intimate tunes, fans shouldn’t expect Red Tail to be as emotionally heavy as Furnace. In fact, over the course of the eight-track disc, Simonett seems to be in a place of contentment and, what’s more, joy. That sentiment comes through clear enough on opening track “Revoked” as Simonett directs listeners to a simple yet powerful chorus: “Bruised by love in the winter moon / I’m feeling fine now.”
Simonett shines throughout Red Tail, thanks in large part to the immaculate production and pristine musicianship found on the record. Ultimately, though, the album stands out thanks to the focus remaining firmly on the singer and writer and nothing else. Tracks like “Pisces, Queen of Hearts” and “By the Light of the Moon” conjure images of Simonett channeling a young Bob Dylan, while “In the Western Wind and the Sunrise” find him embodying the likes of Neil Young as he sings, “Dandelion shoreline, it’s never been the right time / Lose it in the bright lights once again / The crops are in / We’re here again / In the western wind and the sunrise.”
For any reminders of the legends who came before him, though, it’s important to state that Simonett is firmly establishing himself as a bold, resolute voice that will be influencing generations of singers and songwriters to come; Red Tail will no doubt be looked at as one of Simonett’s greatest achievements.
Charles Wesley, one of the most prolific hymn writers of the 18th century, once described worshiping God as being lost in wonder and love. There may be no better way to describe the listening experience of Red Tail; no matter where Simonett is or what he’s singing about, he’s created a world to get lost in, a world built around his own journey toward healing wonder and love. As he assures listeners he’s “feeling fine now” on the opening track, he extends an invitation to join him on album closer “There’s a Lifeline Deep in the Night Sky,” singing, “Can you feel it? Can you feel it? Can you feel it coming over you / There’s a lifeline deep in the night sky / Can you feel it coming over you?” Red Tail is a chance not only to lose oneself in wonder and love, but to grab onto the lifeline that Simonett offers.