Dixie Witch – Smoke & Mirrors

Dixie Witch
Smoke & Mirrors

Dixie Witch’s first two releases, 2001’s Into the Sun and 2003’s One Bird Two Stones, are both wonderful albums, but neither was a great overall representation of this Texas band. The discs failed to capture the group’s live show intensity, and therefore they simply served as a tide-over between tours. However, Dixie Witch’s third effort, Smoke & Mirrors, not only captures the essence of the band, it also tightens the reins a bit as far as style and production.

As a longtime fan of this band, the first time I listened to Smoke & Mirrors I was blown away. While maintaining a decidedly “Southern” feel to the music, this trio has evolved away from the bluesy, stoner-rock of the first albums and landed solidly in hard-rock/metal territory. And this is the sound of the band’s live shows – tight performances by all three members, tons of energy, and great vocals split between drummer Trinidad Leal (who takes on the majority share) and bass player Curt Christenson. More than five years of near constant touring has surely helped perfect the band’s sound.

Much of the album focuses on the thick and heavy hard-rock Dixie Witch has become known for, including stellar tracks like “Set the Speed,” “S.O.L.,” and “Shoot the Moon” that showcase not only Christenson and Leal’s talents, but guitarist Clayton Mills’ lightening-fast riffs as well. The guys still infuse plenty of sludgy, Southern rock into the album such as “Out in the Cold” and “What You Want,” but the great production here gives them much more solid footing. Dixie Witch even rounds out the 11-track album with a slow, bluesy instrumental aptly titled “Last Call.”

Like the band’s live show, Smoke & Mirrors is a constant assault from start to finish with no filler material. While Dixie Witch’s other albums felt like second best to a live show, this one feels like having your own private gig. Although the sound has evolved over time, fans of a variety of types of music will likely dig this – particularly stoner-rock, blues-rock, and Southern rock. I still highly recommend seeing a Dixie Witch show, but Smoke & Mirrors more than does the trick.