Delta Moon drills deep for “Black Cat Oil”
By Jim White
If you like spooky, swampy, rootsy music with its feet in the blues, then you should soak up the music of Delta Moon, and if you’ve never sampled, the band’s latest release, “Black Cat Oil” (Red Parlor Records), is a great place to start.
Except for a fine cover of Mississippi Fred McDowell’s classic “Write Me a Few of Your Lines,” the album is filled with originals, finely crafted by singer/guitarist Tom Gray, with an occasional assist from one of his bandmates — Mark Johnson, guitar; Franher Joseph, bass; Marlon Patton, drums (Darren Stanley handles the drums on the title track).
Gray’s smoky vocals are wrapped in sensuous blanket woven by his lap steel and Johnson’s eerie slide work. Add one laid-back but essential rhythm section and vintage recording techniques, and the result is primitive and contemporary, original yet deeply traditional. One easy description that comes to mind is “honest.”
Some highlights: “Down and Dirty” is just that, shuffling along with a tale of hope amid despair; “Blues in a Bottle,” a haunting blend of guitars and vocals; “Jukin’,” a little ode to the joy of music, and as much as I like their originals, they do classic work on McDowell’s “Lines.”
Delta Moon has created a perfect blend of tough spirit and polished talent — from which they make excellent music here.
Here’s a video with two of the songs from the album (not sure what’s up with the pseudo-psychedelic lighting early on).
Just incidentally, I saw Delta Moon a few years back at the Thunderbird in Lawrenceville, when the band was also fronted by the fine vocals of Gina Leigh.