What separates The Detroit Cobras from thousands of other cover bands—and what makes them worthy of a contract with a quality label like Bloodshot and of far more than just hometown fame—is the seemingly bottomless depths of their record collections. The band’s selection of fiery, vintage R&B cuts is damn near flawless, and their recasting of those songs as rough hewn garage-revival rock n’ roll shows both a reverence for their source material and a distinct point of view. For their fifth album, Tied & True, the Cobras don’t stray too far from their proven formula. The songs, as always, are exemplary (Irma Thomas’s “The Hurt’s All Gone” and Little Willie John’s “Leave My Kitten Alone” are arguably the standouts, though there’s not a bad song on the album), and frontwoman Rachel Nagy snarls and wails with her usual vigor. Where Tied & True slightly underwhelms, then, is in its reigned-in, subdued sound. While there’s always something to be said for subtlety, the band’s performances here, most notably on “Try Love” and “Nothing But A Heartache,” lack their usual attack, making too much of the album sound flat, especially in comparison to their previous efforts and their raucous live shows. For an act like The Detroit Cobras, who live and die based on their energy and conviction, Tied & True sets a bad precedent.
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