The Atlanta quartet that goes by the poetic name, Delta Moon, has been playing together for a number of years. While they have crisscrossed the country, and taken Europe by storm (they’ll be there until early May, before returning to the States), they’ve also found time to record its eighth studio album. Cabbagetown is a worthy follow up to the 2015 release Low Down and the mix of serious blues with gritty rock should make this title a favorite.
The four musicians who make up Delta Moon are Tom Gray on vocals, lap steel guitar, guitar, keyboards, and he even plays harp on one song; Mark Johnson also supplies vocals as well as guitar, mandoguitar, and lap steel guitar on the first song; Franher Joseph adds vocals as well as bass and upright bass; and Marlon Patton plays drums and percussion. Special guests include Jon Liebman on harp for one song and backing vocals from Kyshona Armstrong and Susannah Masarie.
In addition, Gray writes four songs solo and co-writes another five with all of the members of the band. There is one cover which we will get to shortly.
First up is Rock And Roll Girl, an autobiographical song of the hold music can have on us. For many, we are content to watch from the audience, but others are driven to pick up instruments, learn how to play them, and the life takes them out on the road. It’s a fun song with some country blues overtones laid over a rock beat. I like the sound, the energy is manic, but be prepared, Delta Moon will not be shoehorned into one category exclusively.
They follow up with The Day Before Tomorrow, a philosophical song with what I believe is Gray’s raspy voice delivering a solid performance over some very good guitar licks. Again, it’s not necessarily everyone’s idea of the blues, but the song has a solid base and the rock is very much roots oriented. It’s stripped down and really delivers.
Just Lucky I Guess is much more in the traditional blues vein. Steel guitars and a steady drum beat bring us in to the world of the song. I like the lyrics a lot and the song will be getting airplay on Time For The Blues as well as most every other blues show around. They follow up with another quick song with a solid beat, Coolest Fools. It’s a good pairing of these songs together. Both are crowd pleasers with some good guitar work.
Delta Moon gets a little political with Refugee. Political in the sense of a social conscience. They explore the lives of several different refugees from all over the world. It’s a powerful song and the first that is credited to all four of the members of the band. It’s hard to listen to this song and not be moved by the plight of so many people.
The mood lightens considerably on Mad About You. The song is much more rock based, it has that feel of “California Cool” about it, but it is infinitely likeable and I caught a couple of blues purists nodding their head to the beat. That’s one great thing about Delta Moon, they can belt the blues with the best of ‘em, but they don’t shy away from exploring other sounds. This is a good example of that philosophy.
Son House’s Death Letter is the longest cut on the album, clocking in at just about six minutes while all the others fit comfortably in the three-and-a-half-minute neighborhood. For my money, it’s the best song on the album. They capture the pain in House’s classic and still manage to put their own stamp on it. While I tend to shy away from putting most longer songs on the show, I have no problem finding space for this one. It’s a great cover.
I like the song, 21st Century Man, a lot but I won’t be able to play it on the show as it contains one four-letter word that the FCC frowns on going out over the airwaves. Still, if you get this album, give it a listen as the lyrics are very strong and the song has a crazy beat to it. I would never consider censoring an artist’s right to free expression, but there are rules by which we have to abide. It’s brief and an integral part of the rhyme scheme. Just listen to it and make up your own mind. Personally, I liked the song…
The follow up with the instrumental Cabbagetown Shuffle. Apparently, the band began referring to the studio where they were recording the album as “Cabbagetown” due to the high number of vegetarian meals that they consumed during the process. For myself, I have no problems with vegetarians, hell, I’ve been known to consume my fair share as well. If that was the starting point for this lively number, I hope more artists will feast on those same vegetables.
They close the album with Sing Together, a small lesson in shared humanity. Why is it, even with common ancestry, we just can’t seem to get along. Maybe it’s just as simple as coming together and lifting our voices in song. It’s a great song to pair with Refugee, showing the darkest points of humanity with the light that just might get us through.
Delta Moon is a hard-working rocking blues band. You don’t get this good by just practicing in your garage once a week. They are constantly out on the road. If you take a look at their schedule on their website: http://deltamoon.com/ , you’ll see that they are all over the place. As of this writing they are touring Europe but should be back in time for the major festivals.
I even see one in North Carolina, so it may be time for a little road trip to check them out personally. If I get to do it, I’ll be sure to send you a report on how they do live.
In the meantime, please keep supporting blues and roots music and any live show that you come across. The world needs the music, and so do our souls.