Under Review: Delta Spirit – History From Below

In 2008, I started keeping a running tally of albums I wanted to be on my year-end list.  Unfortunately, one album that I did not include was the debut from Delta Spirit, Ode To Sunshine.  While I thoroughly enjoyed that album, it just didn’t stick with me enough through the rest of that year to end of up my list.  Since then, I’ve listened to and have continued to enjoy that record, and have seen Delta Spirit in concert a number of times.  One of those times was at last year’s NonCOMMvention, where the band debuted a handful of new songs, some of which appear on their new album, History From Below.  Building on the strongest points of Ode To Sunshine, Delta Spirit brings some of its strongest material to the new set.  “White Table” is one tune I specifically remember from their NonCOMM performance, and the album version features the atmosphere and percussion that gave their debut its immense character.  More pensive songs like “Devil Knows Your Dead” and the dazzling “Vivian” recapture the majesty of “People Turn Around” and “Strange Vine” while adding new dimensions of emotion.

Though Delta Spirit’s main bag is intense sentimentality, History From Below is not without its out-and-out rock moments.  “Bushwick Blues” and “Golden State” find the band embracing a propulsive energy that they had not shown off as strongly on their previous outing.  Though Delta Spirit plays around with its sound on History From Below, the band’s shining star remains Matt Vasquez’s triumphant vocal.  Whether it’s an intimate hush on the epic closer “Ballad Of Vitaly,” an ethereal howl on “Ransom Man” or a strained shout on the horn-brightened “St. Francis,” Vasquez’s voice commands each and every one of the new songs.  For a band that’s still on the rise, the guys of Delta Spirit have cemented themselves as indispensible parts of the modern music world.  You can be sure that, come December, History From Below will earn a spot on my best of the year list, as it is a thrilling listen from beginning to end and back again.

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~ by E. on June 9, 2010.

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