Review of “Cabbagetown” in Blues Magazine (Netherlands)

Blues Magazine (For the original Dutch text click here.)

Delta Moon – Cabbagetown
Format: CD / Label: Jumping Jack Records
Release date: March 17, 2017
Text: Fons Delemarre

Everyone who doesn’t appreciate the slide guitar, can skip the music of the American band Delta Moon, including the new CD ‘Cabbagetown’, without any hesitation. Apart from a drummer (Vic Stafford) [NOTE: the drummer is actually Marlon Patton] and a bass player (Franher Joseph), there are two (2!) slide guitar players in Delta Moon; Tom Gray and Mark Johnson. In the words of their label:

“Atlanta’s sultans of slide guitar; the blues and roots rock quartet Delta Moon return with their eighth studio album ‘Cabbagetown’, released March 17, 2017, on Jumping Jack Records. The follow-up to the award-winning 2015 release, ‘Low Down’, named one of the best blues records of the year by both Downbeat and Blues Music Magazine.  The new album features nine original compositions and a lively cover of Son House’s timeless classic, Death Letter.”

Which is completely accurate.

‘Cabbagetown’ consists of music with a flowing groove, with a skillful and economical instrumentation. Delta Moon proves once again how effective it can be to let the power of the music speak for itself by embracing self imposed restrictions. Of course it’s not only the slide that is featured, but that distinctive sliding sound remains the trademark of this band. Furthermore the raspy voice of Tom Gray provides a recognizable sound that colors the overall character of the band. On the surface ‘Cabbagetown’ does not appear to be very distinctive from solid albums as ‘Black Cat Oil’ (2012) and ‘Low Down’ (2015), although the album has been infused with a bit more of a rock vibe. You can’t fault ‘Cabbagetown’ with the ten new tracks by Delta Moon. Most songs pertain lovelike affairs (Just Lucky I Guess, Coolest Fools, Mad About You). However, it’s hardly believable to hear a man of a ‘certain’ age sing about those ‘one night stands’ with his ‘Rock and Roll Girl”.

According to the band it’s an “…autobiography of roots-rock dreams with a Springsteen like appeal”. Whatever rocks your boat I guess… It has to be said the opening track is actually quite pleasant. When you arrive at ‘Refugee’ the mood changes abruptly. This song is an indictment against the situation of all refugees in the world. A dark etched male voice proclaims “In this whole wide world we got nowhere to be, so we keep walking, my family and me”. The female voice adds: “It’s me, Ashja, I’ve come here on a boat, full of so many people, it could barely float. I’ve been raped and beaten…”. It’s not only the title of this particular track that reminds you of the Tom Petty song ‘Refugee’. With just a little bit of imagination you could see Petty and his Heartbreakers play this very same song. Without any doubt the most impressive track on this album. The only cover consists of a very unique approach to Death Letter by Son House. This is another song where the low-pitched speaking voice of Franher Joseph is really comes into its own.

Advance Praise for “Cabbagetown” – No Depression

No Depression

Take a scenic trip with Delta Moon to Cabbagetown

By Rick J Bowen

DELTA MOON – CABBAGETOWN – Jumping Jack Records 

Atlanta’s sultans of slide guitar; the blues and roots rock quartet Delta Moon return with their eighth studio album Cabbagetown, released March 17, 2017, on Jumping Jack Records. The follow-up to the award-winning 2015 release, Low Down, named one of the best blues records of the year by both Downbeat and Blues Music Magazine.  The new album features nine original compositions and a lively cover of Son House’s timeless classic, “Death Letter“.

Award-winning songwriter and lead vocalist Tom Gray once again penned most of the new Delta Moon tracks, showcasing great grooves, thought provoking lyrics, infectious hooks, sweet slide guitar work and mountains of superb tone created at the legendary Bakos Amp Works.

The opening track “Rock and Roll Girl“, is an autobiography of roots rock dreams with a Springsteen like appeal. The free flowing acoustic driven groove of “The Day Before Tomorrow,” has an ultra-optimistic sensibility and alt country flair. Franher Joseph moves to Upright Bass for the mostly acoustic introspective tome “Just Lucky I Guess,” and Gray picks some sublime lap steel guitar on the happy go lucky love song “Coolest Fools.” Delta Moon are not ones to shy away from hot topics, taking on the viewpoint of the silent victims of the world’s problems on the provocative track “Refugee” recanting their plight in multi voiced narratives over a soulful groove. Gray switches to electric piano for the driving “Mad About You, “and drummer Marlon Patton lays down a phat hip hop beat to open the ultra-modern reading of “Death Letter,” with Jon Liebman adding greasy Blues Harmonica, sparring with Gray’s lap steel. Another deep groove is at the center of Gray’s satirical look at our gadget obsessed world on “21st Century Man,” while the back-porch blues that inspired the album title “Cabbagetown Shuffle,” is a lively duel between Gray on Hawaiian guitar and Mark Johnson on Bottleneck slide. Gray leaves us with a lesson about our shared humanity on the gently rocking “Sing Together,” with Johnson preaching to the choir with more of his glistening slide guitar.

Advance Praise for “Cabbagetown” – PBS106.7, Melbourne, Australia

By Peter Merrett
PBS106.7 Melbourne, Australia

* DELTA MOON. “Cabbagetown”.

*Label: Jumping Jack Records.
* Tom Gray : Vocals, Lap Steel Guitar, Guitar, Keyboards, Harmonica on track 9.
* Mark Johnson : Vocals, Mandoguitar, Lap Steel on track 1.
* Franher Joseph : Vocals, Bass, Upright Bass on tracks 3 & 9.
* Marlon Patton : Drums, Percussion.
* Kyshona Armstrong : Vocals on tracks 1, 2, 5, 10.
* Susannah Masarie : Vocals on tracks 1, 2, 4.
* Jon Liebman : Harmonica on track 7.

*** Track 1. – “Rock And Roll Girl” Written by Tom Gray.
Man oh man after the success of the stunning “Low Down” album of 2015 it is just so good to have the guys back. Wonderful Rock & Roll intro infused with Johnson’s lap steel guitar. Gray’s raspy voice has certainly matured into a very distinctive tone that is more than pleasing to hear. Armstrong and Masarie provide the wonderful chorusing background vocals. Potent Atlanta style rockin’ Blues.

*** Track 2. – “The Day Before Tomorrow” Written by Tom Gray.
Continuing in that rock vein of track one this acoustic offering certainly moves along and again Johnson’s lap steel shines. For me the last album established the fact that there are very few bands that are as forceful and creative with the lap steel guitar. Throughout the rhythm section of Joseph and Patton shine as they provide the drive and groove for the band. As for track 1 Armstrong and Masarie again provide the background singing. Another stunning original that has a live feel about it. Brilliant performance and song writing.

*** Track 3. – “Just Lucky I Guess” Written by Tom Gray.
Slowing down the tempo but not the intensity this ballad is absolutely stunning and displays how all of the elements that make up Delta Moon come together. The tonality of the guitar is sublime as Gray vocalises throughout with his gritty sinuous trademark voice. This certainly is an amazing song that not only sounds great but feels the same way also. Quite a standout track from all members of Delta Moon. This is why we Blues hounds love this group so much.

*** Track 4. – “Coolest Fools” Written by Tom Gray.
Southern Blues/Rock that just moves along in the tradition of the great Atlanta groups. Again the trademark guitar sound is sublime but somewhat more subtle than previous tracks but still packs enough of a punch to let you know just who you are listening to. Grays vocals establish the story and carry the song perfectly as the band are stunning from top to bottom. Masarie provides the background voice on this one. Wonderful little love story that is very “cool” indeed.

*** Track 5. – “Refugee”  Written by Tom Gray, Mark Johnson, Franher Joseph & Marlon Patton.
Extremely topical at this time and the story can certainly start with the native Americans followed by the slaves and then to today’s civil unrest and war in the Middle East. This is a pointed statement at the state of our world and how we treat refugees. Joseph’s bass voice adds a menacing powerful statement throughout as Armstrong breaks it down to its lowest ebb of degradation to the displaced peoples of the world. Throughout the native American beat and cadence is tangible and telling. Thought provoking honest appraisal of just what we have done to fellow humans on mother earth.

*** Track 6. – “Mad About You” Written by Ton Gray, Mark Johnson, Franher Joseph & Marlon Patton.
Patton drives this one along with some very solid drumming that add to the grittiness of a song that introduces Gray’s vocals and electric piano that are expressive and questioning. As with previous tracks Gray and Johnson deliver outstanding guitar that just makes you sit up and say wow. Great track.

*** Track 7. – “Death Letter”  Written by Edward James House Jr. ( Son House).
If ever you wanted to cover an artist when you play some of the wickedest steel and lap steel guitar then Lyon, Mississippi’s Son House is that artist. This isn’t just a mere cover but rather a stunning interpretation that brings Son into the 21st century. For me this one has elevated the group to dizzying heights that just moves my soul so much. From Patton’s modern Hip hop style drumming certainly introduces this song very differently to what one would expect but man it works perfectly. Joseph’s bass voice was a masterful stroke to the singing duties of Gray and Johnson as it adds that atmospheric darkness to the recording perfectly. Liebman’s harmonica riffs throughout the background to great effect as the full on guitar attack cuts through to the bone laying bare the soul of a man. Now this is how Son House would want to hear his seminal song. Like the way he played that was just plain brutal to his National guitar,  this is just as brutal and so very desirable.

*** Track 8. – “21st Century Man ” Written by Tom Gray, Mark Johnson, Franher Joseph & Marlon Patton.
What a whimsical look at our world around us and ain’t it the truth what with people moving through life staring at some hand held gadget as if their life depended on it. Traversing through life now when you don’t understand or want to understand so called modern technology is a test within itself. Quite laid back instrumentation … “punctuated” by subtle electric piano from Gray. Ahh damn l’m just a 20th century man and proud of it!

*** Track 9. – “Cabbagetown Shuffle” Written by Tom Gray, Mark Johnson, Franher Joseph & Marlon Patton.
Now here we have an absolute gem of a back porch Country Blues instrumental that just feels prefect. This epitomises Delta Moon so well as their Southern Roots shine. Gray’s Hawaiian Guitar and Johnson on Bottleneck duel back and forth with effortless ease. Gray also riffs on harmonica as Patton’s brush work on drums sparkles. Now pass me the jug as l need a taste.

*** Track 10. – “Sing Together” Written by Tom Gray, Mark Johnson, Franher Joseph & Marlon Patton.
Closing out the album we return to the rockin’ style of track one. Here again we have a social commentary that needs to be said. Delta Moon don’t shy away from what is happening around us. Gray delivers his trademark vocals with a powerful chorus emphasising just what needs to be said. Johnson wails and moans with his slide guitar as Patton calls out with his African drumming reminding us where we come from and are all one. Now this is one helluva Blues album.

So glad to have you back, Delta Moon, and man you have delivered an outstanding Blues album in your very own inimitable style. Never one to follow the mainstream but rather follow your Southern Roots with a sound laden with stunning guitar and vocals.  The cover of Son House’s “Death Letter” moved my soul and made me realise just why l and countless others can’t get enough of Delta Moon. Your songs are outstanding and at times very pointed and cutting back the layers of our lives exposing what we chose to ignore. All round the orchestration is brilliant as is the charts and phrasing. There is no filler here as every song can stand alone and shine, this is somewhat rare in this day and age as many albums have that track or two that just doesn’t cut the mustard. Congratulations guys on an outstanding album that will certainly feature highly on favourites lists at the end of the year.

Blues News Norway

Blues News Norway

By Johnny Andreassen

DELTA MOON

LOW DOWN

With  “Low Down” Delta Moon has made its tenth album, including a Tom Waits song (“Down in the Flood”) plus a Skip James blues. The rest is their own material. Since front men Tom Gray and Mark Johnson are both slide guitarists, it will automatically bring to mind a certain sense of Sonny Landreth and the gumbo rock of Little Feat.

All the way done with style and the versatility, putting you in å good listening position from the album starts till it ends!

I think our own Spoonful of Blues boys have found their way home with a song like “Afterglow”, and the J.J. Cale feeling of “Nothing You Can Tell A Fool” is not to be mistaken. The Jack Bruce / Robin Trower feeling of “Mean Streak” and the Anders Osborne nerve in the Dylan song is further proof of the quality of Delta Moon. The common denominator is Little Feat’s mix of roots rock, blues and gospel/country. That they make both the Tom Waits song and their opening track “Wrong Side Of Town” sound like prime-time Little Feat music is just a sign of quality.

A band who masters the full spectrum of American traditional music with such elegance and good taste should not squandered! Go for it!

 

Concert Review, Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Esturion Music (Follow this link for the original Spanish text.)

Written by Angel Marcelo Saffores

DELTA MOON, EXPONENT OF MOST GENUINE SOUTHERN SOUL AND ROCK, LANDED IN COMPOSTELA

It’s Tuesday night and cold. It’s not raining, but the streets of Santiago de Compostela are almost empty. At half past nine when the box office opens, there are already people around the Sala Capitol. Half an hour later the site is two-thirds full. A unique and epicurean audience, knowing they have a unique opportunity , awaits beer in hand as Delta Moon appears to the left of the stage.

With the lights dimmed, the musicians enter and “Midnight Train” starts. From the chords of this song on the album <Howlin’> the intensity of the music and atmosphere will not fail to grow during the 90-minute long concert.

The audience felt the impact of that wonderful southern song that quickly changed the lukewarm applause of the beginning to a standing ovation. The party was started and thereafter it was only dance, sing and be invaded by the quality of the repertoire that followed.

Then came “Lowdown”, an excellent version of a Tom Waits song, and “Open All Night”, mounted on a catchy riff and a unique rhythm, both from the latest album, <Low Down>. Tom Gray and Mark Johnson began to reveal to their audience the virtuosity that characterizes their mourning slides and that is the indelible mark of the band.

It reached this point, fully delivered to an audience that would not stop vibrating with each chord, each counterpoint of the musicians. “Skinny Woman” and “Black Cat Oil” demonstrated the highest musical and performance level of the members of the band, only to make way, almost without catching air, for “Hell Bound Train”, another train moving steadily, ravishing with a swampy, vibrant sound. The applause and cheers did not stop at the end of each song, giving the musicians confidence which increased the party atmosphere.

As in cinema, concerts usually have two turning points in which the show surprises by taking another direction. This first moment happens with “You Got to Move”, a traditional blues with background vocals that do nothing but invite the audience to sing in harmony while moving to the beat of the rhythm section. The band recognizes the symbiosis with people and lengthens the song for the enjoyment of all.

“I’m a Witness”, “Nothing You Can Tell a Fool” and “Afterglow” are the three songs that make up the core of the show. In this space, in the midst of a delirious cacophony of people, the professional musicians unfold all the machinery available to make the show remain in our eyes and hearts for a long time. A surprising counterpoint of slide, like a duel to the death, and a drum solo as perfect as accurate, tell us we’ve reached the summit.

“Ghost in My Guitar”, the classic “Black Coffee” and “Clear Blue Flame” close the main part of the show. The feeling of the moment of these songs is to be traveling by an endless stretch of road leading to the west, while a glowing red ball of sun leaves us blind.

And now the second turning point and the lights are shining again with “Wrong Side of Town”, a song with the classic sound of that wonderful fusion called southern rock, rising the audience that intuits the end but doesn’t stop dancing and singing, as if they could make the show go on forever.

The close comes with the classic “Shake Your Hips”, which Tom Gray and his boys stretched for more than ten minutes for the musicians to shine; the public releases the energy that remains and breaks into endless applause and a standing ovation.

Delta Moon has blessed us with music that has its roots in southern slaves and cotton fields in the south which also gave us Lynyrd Skynyrd, Charlie Daniels, J.J. Cale and ZZ Top, among others.

We leave the Sala Capitol with a great taste, happy to have been at a party.

good-music.ch (Switzerland) names Low Down one of the Top 25 Albums of 2015

good-music.ch

TOP 25 Albums 2015

 Vintage Delta Moon Randall 

  1. 1 Hopeful RdVintage Trouble
  2. Low DownDelta Moon
  3. Devil MusicRandall Bramblett
  4. 3 ShotsHollis Brown
  5. Method To My MadnessTommy Castro And The Painkillers
  6. MonoMavericks
  7. All Right NowLilly Martin feat. Ellis Hall
  8. Gates of GoldLos Lobos
  9. Panhandle RamblerJoe Ely
  10. Busted Jukebox, Vol. 1Shovels & Rope
  11. Meet Me In BlueslandKentucky Headhunters With Johnnie Johnson
  12. Ol’ GloryJJ Grey & Mofro
  13. Keep Coming BackMike Zito & The Wheel
  14. HWY 62Peter Case
  15. A Fool To Care (Deluxe Edition)Boz Scaggs
  16. Cass County (Deluxe Edition)Don Henley
  17. Born To Play GuitarBuddy Guy
  18. TravellerChris Stapleton
  19. Get Loud!Dan Baird & Homemade Sin
  20. Hot DishThe Jimmys
  21. UncoveredShawn Colvin
  22. TerraplaneSteve Earle
  23. This Is From HereHarrison Kennedy
  24. Don’t Look Back: The Muscle Shoals SessionsRoyal Southern Brotherhood
  25. Ten Miles Of Bad Road-Karen Lovely

Review of Low Down in the Examiner

The Examiner

Delta Moon – Low Down

By Chris Martin

Dishing out nasty Blues music for well over 10 years Atlanta’s Delta Moon has built quite a loyal following. Folks around the world flock to their shows and devour their alums built around classic blues sounds. Tom Gray’s smooth guitar playing is complemented by Mark Johnson’s nasty blues riffs to create the Delta Moon sound fans have come to love. The latest record – Low Down – is another enjoyable release that finds the band stealing from classic sounds of the past transforming them into their own original music. On “Nothing You Can Tell a Fool” swampy guitars navigate through an abundance of toe-tapping rhythms as Gray’s gruff vocals sing about the ignorance of a fool. A heavy dose of Southern soul invades listener’s ears on “Open All Night”. The upbeat tune possesses juke joint qualities painting a vivid picture of people shaking their tail feathers in a smoky club or tiny shack. Delta Moon strips things down with the brooding “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues”. Gray provides sparse vocals as his dobro mastery and Johnson’s steel guitar provide the haunting soundtrack. A great cross section of Delta Moons music is the rocking “Afterglow”. The tune is part Texas, part Mississippi, part Chicago and all Atlanta. Low Down is another fine release of soulful music from the veteran blues band.

Review of Low Down in SoundGuardian (Croatia)

SoundGuardian (Follow this link for the original Croatian text.)

Blues Corner
Delta Moon – Low Down

Six months ago, precisely on May 5, the labels Jumping Jack Records and Landslide Records released the album Low Down, recorded by the band Delta Moon. Who are they ? What is it about? Certainly nothing wrong, because they are promoted all over the world by Betsie Brown’s promotional house Blind Raccoon from Memphis.

Dynamic slide guitarist, harpist, singer and keyboardist Tom Gray and his “Blues Brother” Mark Johnson decided the only way to break the perception of what music is and what it can actually become. To simply stay “PAF”, this album is the tenth album in the series! Album offers us nine original compositions and three covers. The team that, in addition to Tom and Mark, makes Delta Moon is: Franher Joseph (bass), Marlon Patton (drums) and backing vocalists Anna Kramer and Francine Reed.

This band has very much established itself on the world blues scene. After winning the International Blues Challenge in Memphis in 2003, the band started touring significantly in the United States, Canada and Europe. In particular they have left their mark in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Austria and Poland. Establishment proceeded rather quickly within the blues milieu, so that today Delta Moon name is something  that will always be recognized. Their album Low Down brings to us music, brings the blues in its primordial meaning and existence. The album echoes with  sounds of traditional blues and intoxicating slide, whose unobtrusive sound attracts the attention of the audience.

After several repeated listenings, Tom and company are very active in the musical will of the listener. To immediately understand each other, there’s too much wisdom, all lies in the ease of access, but also in presentation  form. It as such, with its beauty and sensuality literally sticks and collects all its fans, and they are more than a few.

RECOMMENDATION:
To enjoy the true Delta blues, seek the album Low Down by Delta Moon, about which the famous writer, winner of the prestigious award for journalism KBA, Dave Rubin writes: “Delta Moon is as deep and evocative as a late night stroll down the back roads of Mississippi. Like figurative hell hounds, Gray and Johnson haunt the blues trail of the mind, spirit and body.” And it is 100% accurate. Anyway, see for yourself!

Read more about it at:
www.deltamoon.com
www.facebook.com/deltamoon
www.twitter.com/deltamoon
www.youtube.com/user/deltamoonvideo
www.blindraccoon.com/clients/delta-moon/
www.deltamoon.com/tour/

Order:
CD: www.deltamoon.com/product/low-down/
DIGITAL: www.deltamoon.bandcamp.com/album/low-down