When Cody Clinton rolled out his debut EP, Dog Days Comin' in July 2010, it was a departure that even he hadn't expected. Starting off as a solo CD with a direction differing from his classic rock and Beatles infused history, he ventured off into spaghetti western/film noir territory with his storytelling and southwestern infused soundtrack.
More importantly, however, he introduced his girlfriend Desirae Roses to the studio and found the perfect counterpoint to his vocals and storytelling. What started off as a venture into solo territory quickly transformed to a vocal and musical chemistry, and made itself readily apparent between the two singers.
Instead of a full CD, Clinton wrapped his solo venture as an EP with a second installment in mind. That conclusion arrives this weekend as Clinton's work wit h Roses comes to fruition on In The Dead of Summer, a companion piece to Dog Days Comin'.
Now performing together as Desi & Cody, the duo have established not only their musical chemistry, but an on stage rapport that carries over to the audience in performance and song. Perhaps as a response to that, Clinton completes his solo debut with a different twist, by putting Desi in front of the microphone to finish the story he began telling with his first batch of songs
In many ways, this is the female voice responding to Clinton's machismo from Dog Days. Nearly song for song, you get two sides of the story. "In The Dead of Summer" responds to "Dog Days Comin'" expressing the female's free spirit to open the disc. The sentiment of I'll do anything for you in "Black Clad Girl" is countered by "Whiskey Under the Wine" and Desi expressing that "We're in this together" and even the inner turmoil of "Lipstick and a Gun" is paralleled by the female perspective in "Fable."
When sitting side-by-side and played head-to-head, it's a He said-she said scenario, presenting tow side of the story and enlightening a truth that likely falls in the middle or has both parties leaving a few details out.
More importantly, though, this disc stands on its own for Desi as strongly as Dog Days Comin' did for Clinton, which is a testament to both Clinton's ability to write from both perspectives, but also Roses' incredibly fast development as an artist. This doesn't come off as a debut disc, but more of a confident statement from a young lady mid-stream into her career.
Once again, Clinton strays from classic rock convention, this time taking the music even farther in a southwestern and country tinged frame. On one hand, it adds to the continuity of the project as a whole. On the other, it truly plays to the strength of Desi's voice, in some places recalling Maria McKee in early Lone Justice and in others drawing comparisons to Zoey Deschenel in She and Him.
In reality, Roses falls somewhere in the middle and is just beginning to find her voice, but she's making a strong opening salvo with her debut for what looks to be a promising career as a singer.
She laughed when sharing that Clinton essentially tricked her into singing. What started out as "come sing background on a few songs for me" turned into "now you need to back me up live" and eventually into a full partnership that has the two singing side-by-side as one of the few popular male-female duos in town.
To Clinton's credit, he's always been good at finding the right people to work with and accentuate each other's strength, whether as part of Miniver Cheevy, Pilgrim or now Desi & Cody. He's also shown a new strength in his writing with the ability to take on a new perspective, writing for his partner.
When asked how hard it was to write in a female voice, he shared that it came fairly naturally. By taking the melodies that Desi came up with and sang to his chord progressions, he could easily write within her range and dynamics. Lyrically, he took perspective from their relationship, looking at the story form the opposite side. He also laughed that "30 to 40 percent of the lyrics were taken from things I've heard her say to me..."
"After being in a romantic relationship for three years, I understood her more than most people and also know where I stand," he said. "Looking at this as a debate, that made it easy for me to take her side while taking into account my vulnerabilities."
That balance is exactly why the two discs work as a whole and establishes Desi & Cody as a duo. Now that this project is out of the way, further writing has the two working in tandem and intertwining melodies. "Oh Baby I" closes the set in unity with a "love conquers all" sentiment. Fortunately, this is just the beginning of what promises to be a long and fruitful pairing.
The release party for In The Dead of Summer commences this Friday night, Dec. 9 at Fassler Hall at 10pm with Wink Burcham opening the show and Vandevander acting as Desi & Cody's backing band. Cover is only $5 for the Fassler Hall show, but you can start your night early and get two perspectives.
An earlier, acoustic performance at Dwelling Spaces at 7pm gives the all-ages crowd an opportunity to experience the duo as well in a different setting. For those who are ready to catch both, a $10 advance ticket grants access to both shows as well as a physical copy of the EP and a bonus Christmas single that Desi & Cody have recorded this year. Regardless of which show you catch (or both) this is a great opportunity to catch one of Tulsa's most promising female pop voices as she comes into her own as part of a subtle yet dynamic pair.
Just as the holiday season winds up to a frenetic pace, so does the local music calendar. The choice is yours -- test your stamina to try and take it all in or pick and choose wisely. Whichever you choose, we've got the highlights to get you started.
• Thursday, Dec. 8 -- Western Swing returns to the "house that Bob built" as the Tulsa Playboys provide the soundtrack for an evening of Western Swing dancing starting at 7pm. Also on the books, Tim Casey continues to build a following with an eclectic set of covers with a new twist at George's in his weekly residency. The big show, however, is a double bill of The Greyhounds and Daryl Hance at Fassler Hall, turning the German Beer hall into a blues bar for the night.
• Friday, Dec. 9 -- We've already told you all about the Desi & Cody CD release, which can occupy your entire night with both performances. Also in town to spread the holiday cheer is Chicago at the Brady Theater with a touring Christmas show and Big & Rich hit The Joint with Gretchen Wilson. Not to be overlooked, however, is All Souls Acoustic Coffeehouse with a returning favorite, Jeff & Vida for a great night to relax and enjoy some great tunes.
• Saturday, Dec. 10 -- Whirligig rocks The Colony for the jam crowd and Soundpony keeps the indie-rockers at bay with Forever Blowing Bubbles and Fabulous St. Knicholas Cage. The Del Toros settle in at The Church for an intimate night of stripped back tunes, questions, answers and storytelling, as well as a few Christmas tunes with a semi-private show that begins at 8pm and opener Tell Tale.
The most rocking show of the night come courtesy of Fassler Hall as Fiawna Forte takes to a bigger stage with her fiery show. The stealth bomber of this gig, however, is the return of Pretty Black Chains, now distilled down to a trio for and even more powerful punch of fuzzed out psychedelic hard rock. Cover is only $5 for this double bill, so don't miss the party.
• Sunday, Dec. 11 -- Bless the Fall headlines an all-ages rock show at The Marquee with The Word Alive, Motionless in White and more at 6:30pm to wrap up the weekend. You can also settle in at Mercury Lounge with Brandon Clark or The Colony with Paul Benjaman & Friends to wrap up your weekend.
Triple Shot Wednesday
The rest of the week is fairly quiet, but we've got three great shows coming mid week to give your "hump day" a boost on Wednesday, Dec. 14.
The biggest of the bunch is a rare acoustic show by Ian Moore. He's always been a Tulsa favorite and rewards his loyal fans with a solo acoustic show at Blue Dome Diner with limited capacity. You can expect a special show that digs back into his catalog of songs for some rarities and special twists on your old favorites. Tickets are $25 at the door and Jesse Aycock opens at 7:30pm with Moore following with two separate sets to wrap up the evening.
Also on Wednesday, Me Talk Pretty co-headlines a gig with Medina Lake at The Marquee, but probably won't be the band of most interest for local music fans. The real reason to check out his gig is direct support act Hell of Highwater, which is the latest project for Neal Tiemann (of MidWest Kings and formerly Dave Cook's band). This one sees Neal playing to his hard rock leanings and knack for huge guitar riffs.
Finally, just next door at Hunt Club, The Damn Quails return to Tulsa, but this time for a more layed back acoustic show. Choose wisely or bounce between all three gigs, because they've all got something special to offer.
New Years Plans?
I'm tying up my calendar and looking for all the best New Years Eve gigs for a holiday round up, so if you know when and where you're playing, send me the info at firstname.lastname@example.org so you don't get left out!
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