Hell Bound Train
By Trevor Hodgett
R2 – Rock’n’Reel
‘My daddy told me when I was just a kid…’, sings Tom Gray of Atlanta-based roots rock quartet Delta Moon on the first line of the title song, which opens the album, as the reviewer’s heart sinks. Oh, no — not another Americana song where the singer bogusly and unconvincingly claims to remember receiving some life-changing back porch wisdom from an elder. But in fact thereafter the lyrics are just fine — written with succinct wit, actually — and the song rocks like the clappers.
The next track, ‘Room 429,’ is even better. Melodically the song seems like a somewhat mutated traditional ballad and lyrically it tells, allusively, an intriguing tale that suggests themes of death and betrayal and loss, to an insistent, hypnotic backing.
The sinister-sounding ‘Get Gone’ features spectral banjo by Mark Johnson, who co-wrote several of the songs with Gray, while on ‘Plantation Song’ Gray, a gruffly engaging vocalist, explores complex feelings about the South — shamefully the land of slavery but the place also from which he feels proud to come. Mississippi Fred McDowell’s ‘You Got to Move’, the album’s only cover, is performed simply and profoundly.