CD Review: Delta Spirit, “History From Below”

Written by CD Reviews, Music

Delta Spirit - History From BelowWhen Delta Spirit released their 2008 debut album Ode To Sunshine, I quickly became a fan of the San Diego band. I appreciated the first-rate songwriting, and the impassioned delivery of lead vocalist and lyricist Matthew Vasquez. Not only that, but when I saw them play live in Philadelphia about a year ago, they used a really big drum. I have simple tastes, give me some good songs, crackling electric guitars, and really big drums, and you’re likely to get a good review from me here on Popdose.

Like any other young band, after the release of their first album, Delta Spirit hit the road to support the thing. There they found themselves on bills with the likes of Cold War Kids, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, and Dr. Dog. Songwriting for their follow-up album was done, as it usually is, in hotel rooms. That kind of touring can test the best of bands, but Delta Spirit has not only survived the rigors of the road, they’ve upped the ante with their new album History From Below (Rounder Records).

What is immediately apparent is that great care was taken with the writing of each of the new album’s 11 songs. It’s all killer, no filler. These are the kind of songs that I think of as crafted, as opposed to written. Delta Spirit demonstrates the ability to blend full out rock tracks like the paean to their California home “Golden State”, and “Bushwick Blues,” with rustic, more acoustic tracks like “Scarecrow,” and “Ransom Man,” while maintaining a consistent vision for the album. On “911” the band speaks up for economic justice, and the beautiful death ballad “Vivian” addresses a more spiritual brand of justice. The lovely Tejano rhythms of “St. Francis” push home the song’s spiritual yearning.

With History From Below, Delta Spirit have catapulted themselves into the top rank of bands that represent the American experience in musical style and lyrical substance. Repeated listening serves to reveal more of the powerful truths found in these songs. The album was nicely produced by Bo Koster of My Morning Jacket, and Eli Thomson, and will surely find its way onto many top ten lists at the end of the year.

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