Dead Man Winter: Furnace

Paul Whyte

On Tuesday, January 31, Dave Simonett loaded gear into the Electric Fetus on Superior Street in Duluth for an in-store show. Within an hour later, several dozen packed the narrow aisles of CDs to watch him play new recordings live from his latest album “Furnace” with his project Dead Man Winter. While there was a crowd, it wasn’t hard to find a familiar face to sneak in and stand beside and watch a few songs. This stands in contrast to watching him with Trampled by Turtles on the main stage at the Bayfront and other festivals where several hundreds were present. I have given up on seeing TBT indoors, because things are just a little too tight for me. There’s a lot of love from Duluth for Simonett and his performances with TBT might overshadow his work with albums like this, but I personally feel that it has a little more of a singer-song writer impact and stands on its own.

I will say that I don’t have any Trampled by Turtles on my playlist at work, but Dead Man Winter’s last album “Bright Lights” is definitely on there. In a way I feel like more of a Dead Man Winter fan than a TBT fan in that aspect. Perhaps it’s from faded memories of an out of control hippie jumping around making me spill the beer I had just bought while standing in the crowd for TBT. Either way, I appreciate this version of Simonett and I believe it is catching on.

The Current, and plenty of other media sources have poured praise on the album, and I have to admit I did try for a brief interview myself the other day.
After the amount of reviews and interviews that have happened since then, I’m just going to adjust my approach on this review. Dave did give me his number last week and I’m going to do the rest the review as if I’m listening to a few songs and drunken texting him about my feelings on them while at the same time giving an answer.

It’s 3:30 a.m. and I’ve just listened to “Furnace” I pull out my phone to text Dave Simonett.
“Hey Dave, so I was just listening to ‘Destroyer’ off the album. It’s like you see the world as a wonderful place, but you’re so sad at the same time.” With this song, it is about a divorce and boxes on the street in the snow are a definite reference to that. There’s nothing like the ups and downs in life to manifest hard hitting, yet somehow inspiring lyrics. Simonett admits he’s fucked up and the experience overwhelms him.

“Dude, so The Same Town, it really has me thinking about a lot of things. It’s like there’s just something about being stuck somewhere and while we might be happy, or were happy in that place, when something cause spontaneous change, it doesn’t really change, but in a way, a personal negative situation can make one feel like an outsider in their own area.” Anyone who has gone through something in this region can realize that the area is great, but there’s a bit of isolation here, and not being oneself under certain circumstances can hinder friendships and interactions. Overall, Simonett realizes that things are the same, despite his own personal situation.

“So Weight of the World, that’s just heavy.”
This song is really one of the most painful on the album. There’s really nothing like watching things fall apart on you. The “Weight of the World” is not placed on him, it is placed on the person he sings about. In a way the World is Simonett himself. It is a romantically apologetic song that I can’t even fully comprehend the weight of it.

So, overall, this album is filled with emotion and meaning. It should be noted that he doesn’t take it too far. He creates something that is easy to listen to, but really puts a point across on his feelings. No, it’s not Pink Floyd “The Wall,” which delves into violence, despair, totally losing oneself, and perhaps reinventing oneself as a monster while lamenting their childhood, but there is something totally true and honest.

I think one of the hardest things about songwriting is coming up with something to write about. Obviously, Simonett has something to write about here and he’s not looking for pity or to make the listener sad because he feels sad, it’s written with a manner of grace and poise that still lets out just enough to show that this is full on from the heart kind of stuff.

It was recorded at Pachyderm Studio, so I have little to say about the recording itself except that is very tight and the musicians he brought in killed it. I’m Not surprised there. I’d say to go to the upcoming Luce’ show in Duluth, but I think it’s sold out. Try to get in anyway, and pick up this album, if honest emotional music is your thing.  


Paul Whyte

A South Shore native and University of Wisconsin-Superior journalism graduate. Lifelong musician, and former open mic host. Passionate about the music scene and politics.

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