Chimes at Midnight and How Shall We Then Live? (Rootsy)
Reviewed by Michael Toland, Fri., Sept. 5, 2014
In the essay accompanying this CD/DVD set, Deadman leader Steven Collins notes the point of EP How Shall We Then Live? and companion film Chimes at Midnight "was to create a piece that focused on the mystery, beauty, and romance of creating something in general." He also includes dialogue adapted from Shakespeare's Henry V. If that sounds pretentious, Collins and his Austin/Lockhart band have the goods to back it up. "Javert" showcases a cafe philosopher letting his ruminations flow gently into patrons' ears instead of diving down their throats. "Our Fellow Man" balances common-sense spirituality with Johnny Cash chickaboom, while "Hard Pill" tributes muses most directly in waltz time. The title ballad asks its earnest question without portent, seeking answers rather than demanding them, and Bob Dylan's "Things Have Changed" settles in like Collins wrote it. Sensibly, the black-and-white film eschews narrative for atmospheric performances against an out-of-time club backdrop. Working in a mostly acoustic mode with an acknowledged debt to Leonard Cohen, Deadman polishes the honest craft in Collins' English major rock without making a fuss.