Put through the music industry grinder, what's a country boy to do? Dallas native Todd Deatherage, now relocated to New York City for several years, has been on a steady uphill climb since his solo debut. Back in 2001, Deatherage released Dream Upon A Fallen Star, which received great praise - most notably for the comparisons to the legendary Gram Parsons. Since the successful tour for Dream, Deatherage settled down in a post-9/11 New York and began playing the local circuit around Brooklyn and Manhattan. Even still, he jumps between playing solo and bringing his band on stage, which helps to expand his ever-growing grassroots following.
The newest EP from Deatherage is a stunning venture into taking the DIY, unsigned leap of faith. Tracks 1-3 were recorded with UK producer Damien Mendis (Electric Six, The Gorillaz), and the final two with Whiskeytown's Mike Daly (former bandmate of rock star Ryan Adams). The five-track release shows a more mature side of Deatherage. "Oliver Twist" opens up with the line "I've been looking for a new tomorrow and a better life," continuing on about acceptance of the past, and declares "What is all of this for? / I need a reason." "Linger On" features one of the best choruses he's ever written, with a beautiful piano tinge provided by Carter Albrecht (of the platinum-selling Edie Brickell and The New Bohemians). Where "Everyday Is A Fight" is a fun, tongue-in-cheek track, "Undone" is the song that's bound to catch on in radio. "Out Of Line" serves as the perfect closer, with both Deatherage and Daly playing off one another with guitar.
After waiting several years for a UK label to release the songs that are featured on the EP, Todd was able to free himself from a battle within the label and take his songs with him. "I couldn't let my life be on hold for any longer," says Deatherage. The period in which these songs were written and recorded were some of the most troubling times of his life, as years of loving and playing music as a passion were put to the ultimate test for him: balancing the creative with the business. "This EP was a big struggle and learning experience for me. I experienced my first real pitfalls of the music business with this recording. One minute I was going to be so huge and the next minute I was a zero. The reality of the situation was that I was always the same person; neither big nor small, just myself. I fired band members, had people give up on me, friends die, was a complete prick, tackled my depression and faced many situations alone. Releasing this EP is much like killing the monkey on my back. And I don't see a better way in doing this than by putting it out myself."
So where does Todd Deatherage fit in? Rock, country, jazz, blues - the list of genres go on and on, as does his band history. Back in Dallas during the late 90s, he played in The Calways, which touched on the best parts of Reverend Horton Heat (whom they played with twice) and Tom Petty. They played with the Old 97s and shared their last stage with Wilco, and the experiences brought Deatherage to strive to perfect his songs, rather than try to find a particular sound. Alone or with his band, his strengths are with his smooth vocals and dexterous guitar.
With the goal of combining a love for old country and the modern rock music that continues to influence him, Todd Deatherage is sure to gain the great attention that this release deserves.
-Vicki Siolos, Planetary Group