The Detroit Cobras have built an international reputation from mining their estimable record collection for raw and emphatic R&B tunes and giving them a hard, sweaty reinterpretation dominated by hard-edged guitars, but they've turned things down a few notches on their fourth album, Tied & True. Though Tied & True once again features the Cobras running through a baker's dozen of soulful chestnuts (and say what you will, but this band knows a great song when they hear one), the attack is more subtle this time out, and the more measured approach serves them well. The band still knows how to deliver the rock & roll goods, but guitarists Mary Ramirez and Greg Cartwright (the latter on loan from Reigning Sound) aim less for sonic overkill than giving vocalist Rachel Nagy a proper backdrop for her passionate, throaty vocals, and the results are more soulful and satisfying than what the band came up with on 2005's Baby. Similarly, drummer Kenny Tudrick doesn't shy away from the Big Beat, but also drives these arrangements with imagination that's less about bash and more about groove. Greg Cartwright didn't produce this set like he did on Baby, but his influence is clearly felt on this music, which boasts more of a Southern sense of rhythm and heart than the Detroit Cobras' earlier albums and recalls the rollicking but passionate tone of his best work with Reigning Sound. And Rachel Nagy is in great form on these sessions, filling these tunes with emotional energy while creating a sultry sense of mystery on the slower numbers. Folks looking for a re-creation of the Detroit Cobras' rowdy live shows might be thrown at first by Tied & True's more low-key attack, but the results are soul satisfying music that ranks with their best studio work to date.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming