Delta Moon, a blues-rooted Atlanta based band features the twin slide guitars of Tom Gray (also a notable songwriter who wrote for Cyndi Lauper (Money Changes Everything), Carlene Carter and others) and Mark Johnson. While both started playing in rock bands, before both started playing slide guitar and started playing together adding bass and drums they started playing nightclubs. Bassist Franher Joseph and drummer Darren Stanley joined Delta Moon in 2007. Red Parlor Records (Blues Boulevard in Europe) has just issued Delta Moon’s sixth CD Hellbound Train. Gray played a part in writing all ten originals (there is one cover) with Johnson contributed to seven of them, and Joseph and Stanley also are credited on a couple of selections. Francine Reed adds backing vocals to several selections.
Not familiar with their prior records, one is struck by a certain Dylanesque quality to some of the performances in terms of the song imagery and the strong blue feel of the performances. Gray’s lap steel and Johnson’s slide provide this feel with some keen, whining playing with the rhythm section providing simple emphatic (perhaps a trifle too emphatic) backing. Listened by themselves, the lyrics are intriguing although many of the performances share similar tempos (an exception being the high-stepping Ain’t No Train. The one cover is “You’ve Got to Move,” and Fred McDowell’s influence on the two guitarists would be evident even without there performance of this tune. Also, the simple driving rhythms and melodies also display this influence as well as the blues of the North Mississippi Hill Country. Take the Back Road, stands out in contrast with a country-rock feel, while the closing Plantation Song, is a folk lament.
Not strictly a blues recording with some folk and country touches, but certainly the blues roots of much of Hellbound Train, is clearly evident. Several of the songs are clever and interesting although several of the performances did sound similar, so this may be best enjoyed sampled a few songs at time, but clearly worth checking out. This can be obtained from http://deltamoon.com. A number of their earlier releases are available on cdbaby, and this may be when officially released in April.
A publicist for this release sent me a review copy. This review originally appeared in the May 2010 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 325)