Originally Published at The Blue Indian on November 2, 2010.
From the soil beneath your feet to the sky above your head, opening track "Dear Mary” sets the tone for the Tomahawks’ expansive debut full-length record. What follows reads like a vintage-rock Farmers’ Almanac, telling stories of changes in mind and season; twists of time and tumult of heart. Said best, “If time can tear the concrete apart, imagine what it does to your heart.”
Second track, “Sunrise,” continues the theses, and serves as a disarmament. Frontman Nick Jaeger empties a suitcase of influences and allusions on the table: Son of a Preacher Man, Fortunate Sons and with Silver Spoon in tow, only missing a cat and a cradle. From the omnipresent ghosts of rock past, Neil Young and Creedance, to current landscapers, Wilco and My Morning Jacket, these unabashed nods allow the band to push onward, to “cut loose” from the company their sound keeps. So Jaeger continues to tell a hopeful story of a dimestore prodigal and like the rest of the album, his honest writing offers the reader faded snapshots, textured and as clear as they need to be. These “mid-fi” rhapsodies echo the album’s smooth but sometimes slurred production.
“Hearts” is a pounding, adventurous rollick. Jaeger’s grouped vocals allow him to wear his heart on his sleeve with the swagger of the kerchief that adorns his neck at the band’s live shows. Beyond the great writing though, this is in a lot of ways a guitar record. Jaeger comes off less as the son of a preacherman and more the son of a luthier. "A Moment to be Free’s” second half is my favorite portion of the whole album: part sweet harmony, part A Ghost is Born ax battle, building tension, tearing it down and then bleeding into the Comment-styled (Kicking Television) "Reason And Rhyme" to follow.
Benefiting from the indefinite hiatus of Chapel Hill mainstay Max Indian (which featured many of the album talented players), the Tomahawks seem poised to continue to develop their bouncy piano, infectious neon-soaked sing-a-longs, howling organ, and controlled shreds. Cut Loose is certainly one of my very favorite releases of a year that is rapidly coming to a close.