The Devil Makes Three are a three piece. You could consider them a power trio, sure, the drums and loudness are exchanged for fiddle and the acoustic instruments that comprise most old timey or folky music. TDMT’s new release is “Redemption and Ruin”; the title is certainly telling considering the song choices. While there is no original song by them on this album, the arrangements of these songs are original. Lucia Turino (upright bass), Pete Bernhard (guitar), and Cooper McBean (guitar and tenor banjo), have taken these songs–and I will use my artistic license with this–have given them what seems to be a reflexive look of personal life or what “we” all have or are becoming. Either way, TDMT stays true to who they are. Some bands deviate, however these folks find the comfortable in-between.
Redemption & Ruin, the other “r and r,” starts off with a rendition of “Drunken Hearted Man” by Robert Johnson. A song that at its most literal is a song about all the trappings of being lost in addiction, and the album continues in this sort of vain. However, there is a break. Through the exploration of some dark songs there is a window where a half-lit sun peaks through the clouds. I don’t mind the dark material. The song choices, in general, I happen to enjoy. Lord knows there is enough of them in the public domain that they could have made an album full of them, but they did not.
It seems as if throughout the first half of the album it is all about the ruin. The ruining of self, relationships, or just one’s life in general, or the ruining of a trajectory that is being stared down at you, so why not try to mess with it? Then redemption comes in and says, “wait a minute” and “nope, not happening.” Sort of like being pulled back from the ledge and taking that plunge into ruin. Maybe I am all wrong about this. I was not in the room with TDMT when they were working on the concept for the record. All I know is what they have produced for us. That being an album I enjoy. I was pleasantly surprised when “Waiting Around to Die” came into my ears. Which is a sentence I have never written before, and TDMT’s arrangement of the song is enjoyable. After this song, they finish off with the “brighter” songs, and I use brighter loosely.
This is by all means, a TDMT record. Exploring dark material with a little light, and doing this can go in many directions and become a hokey, but for this guy at least it does not come across as that. The song choices and the arrangements of them stay true to not only the original songwriter, but to them as well. Which in my eyes is most important and treads a fine line that can hurt an album, however they have completely avoided that with this. They close out the album with a Hank Williams song that I have always loved since I heard it on my back porch at least ten years ago. I would recommend going to see them whenever they come to town, or take a listen to the record, or hell both. For you never know when that angel of death will come after you.