Local Wire

The Detroit Cobras

At some point in rock 'n' roll, creativity got confused with originality — bands and singers were suspect if their songs weren't self-penned. Performers recording others' songs were often seen as less "genuine" by the terminally hip. That kind of thinking is responsible for tons of rock albums containing two or three great original songs with the rest merely just-plain-lousy original filler. The Detroit Cobras realize this — this set contains not one original song (but it's not a "tribute album," either), but it's a winner nonetheless. Like fellow Detroiter Mitch Ryder, pre-1966 Rolling Stones, and Dr. Feelgood, the Cobras' specialty is unpolished American R&B circa 1962-1968, delivered with sinewy élan — Tied & True has nary an excess note or syllable. With her unaffected and cool directness, singer Rachel Nagy somewhat recalls a young Chrissie Hynde, and she never employs histrionics or bluster to convey how "soulful/tuff" she is. Her fellow Cobras match her every step of the way; their playing is terse and sharp but never amateurish, the production spare but not lo-fi. Not every song is fab, but there are no stinkers, either. These Detroit Cobras give roots rock a shot of vitamin B12 and Jack Daniel's.