Black Cat Oil
By James Mann
Atlanta might be the urban music capital of the South, but it’s long been known for its blues. Tinsley Ellis and the late Sean Costello are more recent additions, but Blind Willie McTell made a name for himself playing “Statesboro Blues” on the streets of downtown Atlanta back in 1930s. Since the early 2000s, you can add Delta Moon to the list. Formed by Tom Gray and partner in slide Mark Johnson, their seventh album, Black Cat Oil, is pure ear candy. Gray, formerly the leader of The Brains, Atlanta’s claim to New Wave fame with “Money Changes Everything,” cast aside the keyboards and picked up a lap steel guitar and found his voice.
Black Cat Oil continues Delta Moon’s winning streak of great albums that garnered Gray the 2008 “Blues Songwriter of the Year” from the American Roots Music Association. “Down And Dirty” starts the record off on a tear, with Johnson and Gray’s dual slide guitars making a swampy, vibrant mood that the rest of the album’s 11 cuts only amplify. “Neon Jesus” is about as close to church as I wanna go, and “Walk Out in the River” is an anthem waiting on a crowd to sing along. By the time the record ends with a spirited take on Mississippi Fred McDowell’s “Write Me a Few of Your Lines,” the songwriting of Gray and the unique sound of tandem slide guitars create a heavenly spell. May it be a full Delta Moon for many records to come.