The DTs: Nice n Ruff

[1 January 2007]

By Dara Kartz

It’s hard to put your finger on exactly what’s missing with this album. The DT’s have done a good job of cherry-picking some choice rock and soul classics to cover here, with the intention, of course, of adding their own flavor into the mix—flavor that mainly comes in the form of ripping vocals from Diana Young-Blanchard. It’s an odd way to follow up their debut release of originals in 2004, but the track listing was enough to garner some curiosity: Al Green’s “Driving Wheel” and Eddie Floyd’s Stax classic “Big Bird” are both featured along with more straight-up rock numbers like AC/DC’s “What’s Next to the Moon”. So technically, the pieces are all in place for what’s supposed to be a “non-stop, sweat-soaked, 35-minute rock and soul party”. The problem, though, is that there is no real soul felt here. Blanchard’s pipes earn the comparison to Janis Joplin’s howl well enough at times, but it’s a far more rocking than soulful wail, and the band sounds like they’re holding themselves back from wanting to rock out. The addition of requisite “soul” horns on some tracks is a typical example of the unnatural attempt at imitating a groove here: the soulful vibe is just overall awkward. In the end, that doesn’t say much for the album, but it did remind me to check out the killer Detroit Cobras records I hadn’t listened to in awhile.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/the-dts-nice-n-ruff/