Music » Livewire

The Detroit Cobras

With the Willowz and Boatzz. Saturday, July 14, at the Beachland.

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Kneel before the Detroit Cobras at the Beachland, Saturday.
  • Kneel before the Detroit Cobras at the Beachland, Saturday.

Tied and True, the Cobras' new disc, is their finest recording to date. The group unloads an astounding assortment of ancient soul and R&B treasures drawn from American, British, and Jamaican sources -- everything from the Flirtations' girl-group opus "Nothing but a Heartache" to the melodic ska of the Melodians' "My Delight."

But good taste is one thing -- execution another. And nowadays, the Cobras execute like a Johnson machine gun.

Longtime associate Greg Cartwright, on loan from the soulful garage combo Reigning Sound, has produced and written for the band before -- and to great effect. This time around, his duties are simple: Play explosive, tremolo-charged guitar that complements the volcanic vocals of queen Cobra Rachel Nagy.

Nagy has always conveyed a deep connection with the songs she sings. On Tied and True, however, she sounds even more convincing. The reason is simple. According to recent interviews, recording overlapped with the brutal end of a long-term relationship. "Born in darkness, I had to find my way up to the sun," she wails in the stomping opener, "As Long as I Have You." Written for Philly soul-chanter Garnet Mimms before Nagy was born, it's obvious she's lived every word of the tune.

This is her magic -- the ability to call the soul of a song home. And on Tied and True, Nagy proves it over and over again.

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