Review: Brett Detar “Bird in the Tangle”

Brett Detar
Bird In The Tangle
By Gerry Gomez, Staff Writer

LA based, Brett Detar, plays sweet guitar, matched with a wonderful gravel in his voice.  It works well for him. And, it seems the gravel stretches all the way down to his heart and soul.

There is something ethereal about Detar’s lyrics, voice, playing and sound that convey what he calls, the “darkest depths of wanderlust and loneliness.”  He seems like a real troubadour who has spent a good mount of time on the lonely roads of the country and the darker roads in his mind.

What Detar gives on his confident, new, Bird In The Tangle, is as nice a collection as any journeyman can offer. Given that it’s his first country-tinged  effort after previously fronting a successful alternative/indie band (The Juliana Theory), it’s a really well produced, well written and well played Americana album, that will rank up there with some of the better offerings in the category this year.

From the heartfelt opener, “Empty House On A Famous Hill,” it’s clear that Detar wrestles with questioning where he’s come from and to where he’s going. “Empty House” gives a dark and musically organic intro to Detar’s new-found style and his lyrics are rich. He warns:

“If you sell your house to those empty souls you’ll be vacant like this house upon the hill.” And ends the track saying, “I can’t go on giving all off my love to a town that don’t feel the same .”

Living in Los Angeles, one can understand the sentiment.

Detar claims to have grown apart from The Juliana Theory and what he found was George Jones, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash. He is a sensitive soul who imparts some of his alternative conventions to country arrangements, as is evidenced in “It’s Only The Night” which with the right musical accompaniment could be done in the former mentioned style. Lucky for us, Detar sought out onetime Lorretta Lynn drummer Pete Young, who in turn assembled a hot shot Nashville backing band to give us the waltzy tune, replete with violin and pedal steel guitar. Young produced the entire album and some of the tracks are first takes.

Just as country music found its way to Detar, the songs on the album found there way to him. After he grew away from Juliana Theory, Detar said he had given up on music. But still, he kept making voice recordings of “throw away” songs, to discover one evening that he had written a collection of the “most honest, soul-barring songs” he’d penned to date. The chorus from “This City Dies Tonight,” is perhaps his theme-song (of this period at least):

“Everyone wants to be remembered … I never planned to be remembered like this … now I never ever want to come back alone … Lordy knows if I’ll even be missed … ’cause here’s there’s too many strangers … I thought I knew them, but I guess I was wrong … all of my friends turned against me … the story’s written, but it’s been written wrong.”

Bird In A Tangle is an album marking a new road for Brett Detar. Here he has taken control of his own music making destiny and given the chance to rewrite the story. We can be glad he’s chosen this path and should look forward to many more years of watching that story unfold.

For more information on Brett Detar visit:


  1. Pingback: The Late Great Townes Van Zandt Tribute Show

  2. Pingback: Together Through Townes Giveaway

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.