Delta Moon: Black Cat Oil (Red Parlor Records)
By Jimi Patricola
OK so the pairing of the band name and the title just brings up images of swamps, Spanish moss and sickly sweet sultry nights.
Hey now, that’s a good thing!
A drum beat and thick slide guitar set us up in ‘Down and Dirty‘, as Tom Gray “I lost my job, I lost my home…” Yeh, brother we hear ya. This track sets the stage for a wonderful collection of ten originals penned by Tom and band mates and one cover.
Fred McDowell’s ‘Write Me A Few Of Your Lines‘ is the lone cover, and well chosen and their treatment adds a new life to the classic song. Yes, we have heard it ad nauseum but what Delta Moon does with it is refreshing and has the feel of Mississippi Hill Country to it, nicely done.
There is an overall reverb feel to this release, created by Tom and Mark Johnson on guitars. Not the thin usual aura associated with reverb city – but a thick reverb like the cries of a cat or a lost soul in the warm delta night as it rings off the roofs and windows. Somewhat haunting but to good to not take notice of.
‘Blues In A Bottle‘ is a very interesting take on what might seem to be the standard fare on alcohol and blues. Yet is a plea that he be able to put these blues in a bottle and cork the stopper down. I find these lyrics compelling and just what we need these days with songwriting in our genre. Bravo!
The title track ‘Black Cat Oil’ recalls the time when hucksters roamed the streets as medicine shows. Things have not changed much as the plethora of internet ads incessantly pound us with ‘curatives’ and ‘potions’. So tempted he sends off his money and get his bottle of black cat oil, of course it turns out for the worse – losing everything and being under arrest, but the glimmer of everlasting hope and saving graces is clear as he sings “I guess I might not of used enough”! Indeed, there is a serious depth to these words whether it be about snake oil, talisman’s or religions.
Oh hell, since I went there lets take one look at ‘Neon Jesus’, the path to salvation or redemption is often only clear when the darkest hour is upon us. Mr. Gray writes compelling lyrics to a slightly ethereal backdrop of music that tells the tale of every person and the quest, reflection, and deliverance.
A stunning release, their best to date. If you like your Blues thick like a gumbo made with the darkest of roux then ‘Black Cat Oil’ is for you. It is refreshing and not too overworked, and guitars know their place in the band here. Get it – give it!
Take sip, and see what it does for you: http://www.deltamoon.com/Delta_Moon___Home.html