Saturday 24 September 2016

Dee Calhoun - Rotgut (Album Review)

Release date: June 2016 . Label: Argonauta Records. Format: CD/DD

Rotgut – Tracklisting

01 Unapologetic
02 Rotgut
03 Not Everyone Wins A Prize
04 Little Houn Daddy Houn
05 Babelkowa
06 Backstabbed In Backwater
07 The Train Back Home
08 Sincerely Yours
09 Deifendor
10 Cast Out The Crow
11 Winter A Dirge
12 At Long Day's End

Band Members:

Dee Calhoun


Dee Calhoun has had quite a varied music career over the last 20 plus years or so. He's been the vocalist of Doom Metal legends Iron Man for the last 6 years. It's a role that he's excelled in over the last few Iron Man records with some superb vocal performances especially on their 2013 album – South Of The Earth.

Now Dee has released a solo album called Rotgut. An acoustic Southern/Blues/Country/Doom kind of album. Rotgut has a similar vibe to Scott Kelly and Wino's recent solo albums. So if you're a fan of those kind of albums then Rotgut will speak volumes to you.

The album can be a very hard album to listen to at times especially with the bleak subject matters that Dee covers. The lyrical content is bleak but one that also offers moments of hope. A very hard thing to do but Dee pulls this off with style and grace. Songs such as Unapologetic, Rotgut, Backstabbed in Backwater, Cast Out The Crow and At Long Day's End show that Dee has a keen eye for Americana based melodies especially when mixed with elements of Folk, Southern Rock and a hint of Doom.

Rotgut is an album that will take a few listens to fully enjoy the overall feel of the album. It's not an album that's going to appeal to everyone. These acoustic solo albums can be an acquired taste for me a times but thankfully Rotgut is an exception to the rule. As it's superbly produced and it offers the listener a vintage style of sounds.

The instrumental work is good throughout the album though there's a few moments where the guitars can sound a bit out of tune at times. Maybe that's just me but it shouldn't stop you're enjoyment of the album. You can tell that Dee has been influenced by Neil Young on this album as the track – Not Everyone Wins A Prize – sees Dee perform his best Neil Young style vocal performance. The song itself is a haunting and heartfelt melody as it takes aim at the heart-strings.

Little Houn Daddy Houn is perhaps one of the weakest songs on the album. It's a song that Dee perform with his own son Rob Calhoun. I can see why Dee included this song on the album as it's a tender experience that Dee could enjoy with his son. Though it feels out of this place on the album. I applaud Dee for including this on the album as it shows you the more paternal side of Dee that people may not be used to. Maybe I'm being too harsh on the song itself.

Apart from that minor complaint, Rotgut is a stunning solo musical odyssey that brings the audience closer spiritually and musically to the man himself which Iron Man could never do.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Barbara at NeeCee Agency for the promo. Rotgut is available on CD/DD from Argonauta Records now.