BY MICHAEL TOLAND
Radio Birdman founder Deniz Tek has certainly kept busy with his many musical projects (not to mention his work as an E.R. doctor), but Detroit is his first record under his own name in quite some time. Longtime fans of the globetrotting guitarist/songwriter expect six-string fire and take-no-prisoners rock & roll, and while that’s always been and always will be the core of what Tek does, the Motor City energy implied by the title is not the focus here – instead it’s the songs themselves.
Using Detroit more as a metaphor than as an actual location, Tek looks out at the struggle of the have-nots in his country and frowns at what he sees. Unemployment runs rampant in the bluesy “Ghost Town,” poverty takes charge in the folk-rocking “Can of Soup” and death itself dominates the burly “Pine Box” and the brooding “Growing Dim.” Luckily, Tek doesn’t let pessimism rule. He gives destiny the finger on the catchy “Fate, Not Amenable to Change,” sneers at the privileged in the boogying “Let Him Pay For That” and denies societal decay in the raging “Twilight of the Modern Age.” The moody “Perfect World” posits love (however unrequited) as an answer, while the snarling “I’m All Right” simply lets the flag of defiance fly.
Tek’s gruff, plainspoken larynx, while not the most flexible of instruments, suits his blunt pronouncements, and his guitar speaks when his lips can’t. Tek has long been celebrated for his axe and his attitude – Detroit reminds us that his writing deserves equal treatment.
DOWNLOAD: “Twilight of the Modern Age,” “Fate, Not Amenable to Change,” “Growing Dim”