The Delta Saints - Death Letter Jubilee
Record Label: Self-released
Release Date: Jan. 15, 2013
If the state of Louisiana was looking for a new state song, it might want to give the album Death Letter Jubilee from Nashville's The Delta Saints a spin or two. On this startlingly complete full-length, the quintet whips up some of the finest homespun roots-blues-gospel-folk, this writer has heard in quite some time. The group is anchored by three distinct sounds: the first, vocalist Ben Ringel's growling vocals, second is Ringel's rattling dobro and third is a well-placed harmonica that harkens back to the affecting overtones of Blues Traveler's John Popper.
The album's finest moment is indeed its title track. A triumvirate piece of craftsmanship that rivals anything currently circling the AAA airwaves. Beginning soft and sweet before diving into a dobro-fueled splash of swampy blues-rock. Handclaps and gang vocals enter the fray at the two-minute mark and signal the approach of what is certain to be a crowd-pleaser and perennial live favorite. And from there, the song morphs into a howling blues jam dripping with confidence, swagger and polish. Other high-water marks from the first haf include the swerving opener "Liar," the open-road scorcher "Chicago," and the whip smart "Sing To Me."
The slow-rolling "Drink it Slow," teems with mist and heat, while "From the Dirt," feels akin to a backwoods barbecue. For all their moments of caterwauling and cacophony, few are as ardent as album closer "Jericho." And it is there that The Delta Saints make the most sense. Recognizing the band's strengths and realizing how to harness them is what separates the good from the wannabes. On softer moments, like the understated "Jezebel," the funereal "Out to Sea," and the near-perfect "River," the band hits at moments far too brilliant to be fully understood. That the album comes across as effortless and self-assured as it does is only a testament to the band's creative firepower. Death Letter Jubilee may indeed be just the beginning, but if this is their debut, then there's plenty reason to think, these boys have a lot more walls to shake.