A welcome arrival on the blues map…
Review by Gary Cordwell
Release date: 4 September 2015
So what is the state of play with the blues right now? We have less than a handful of the true originals left (step forward Buddy Guy), a few 60’s blues boomers (The Stones, John Mayall), vaguely semi bluesy contemporary bands (Kings Of Leon et al) and some brilliantly sludgy metal interpretations (DO check out Goatsnake’s brilliant Black Age Blues). Oh yeah, and arena filling businessmen without a glimmer of soul who, when about to play a tribute gig to Mssrs Waters and Wolf, admits in interviews that he’s not particularly familiar with their oeuvres… Hang your head in abject shame Mr. Bonamassa!
And there are also a few genuinely talented one off’s who walk their own path. Speaking of which…’Bones’ is the second full length offering from Nashville five-piece The Delta Saints. Yes, there is a definite contemporary sheen to it – hints of Rival Sons – but there is a connection to and an understanding of the blues motherlode. There is also, to my ears, a passing nod to Free, to the loose, easy minimalism of their sound. It’s spare, stripped back and lean with not an ounce of flab or overblown production. Like Kossoff it’s not about the quantity of notes played but the quality – notes are there for a reason, they have something to say, they’re not just there for show or effect.
There is fuzz, grease and swamp mist. The blues has been absorbed and not played by rote. The lyrics of the title track may be classic blues lines but the music is being twisted into all sorts of interesting shapes, it’s understated and confident with an African feel to the riff, you can feel the desert sand swirl around you. ‘Heavy Hammer’ swings nicely. If Ry Cooder ever decides to rock again he might sound like this. Songs slink along in a moody, slightly spooky manner, the skittering piano and guitar are loose and dirty. ‘Butte La Rose’ is a stand out track and sums up the band – smart, haunting and possessed of flawless groove. This true tale of a town flooded and displaced to save New Orleans is riveting. Its mournful acoustic intro moves into a Gilmour-esque spacey solo, it manages to be psychedelic, bang up to date and have a sprinkling of N’Awlins backline and Louisiana hoodoo.
This album was a breath of fresh air. Traditional yet modern, with an eye on the now but its feet planted firmly in the soil of the crossroads. Its feel, it’s controlled musicianship and fearlessness in taking risks and exploring tangents mark it out as a welcome arrival on the blues map.
8 out of 10
- Sometimes I Worry
- Heavy Hammer
- Butte La Rose
- My Love
- Into The Morning
- Soft Spoken