“Hell Bound Train” review in Rootstime (Belgium)

Delta Moon
Hell Bound Train

(Translated from Dutch)

Delta Moon — the band name alone sounds good, but wait till you hear their music. “Hell Bound Train” is their latest CD, already the fifth from this Georgia group. The first two CDs were with singer Gina Leigh, who was then replaced by Kristin Markiton on vocals. A little later when she also left, the two founders Mark Johnson and Tom Gray, already a super slide tandem, didn’t seek another replacement. Tom Gray took the vocals on his own account, and you wonder why not before? Tom’s voice, a little gritty on the edge, sounds perfect with the dual slide guitars, which always bring to mind the spirit of David Lindley and Ry Cooder. Their sound is almost identical.

On the former records the voices of the singers sounded just fine, but since the CD “Clear Blue Flame” from 2007 the band’s sound is so much better. Now, you know that I find it difficult to resist the heavenly sound of a good slide guitar, but when they are so talented and play so smoothly together these two “sliders” make me completely hooked. These two names are on the list of my favorite guitarists like Duane Allman, Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes, Sonny Landreth and the two aforementioned: Cooder and Lindley. Delta Moon over multiple years has been one of our favorite bands.

Southern swamp, and as I said two nice sounding slide guitars and the smoky gravel voice of Tom Gray, that’s for me! Of course, everywhere in the press they are compared with the Stones and Allman Brothers, probably because of the double guitar, but Delta Moon is especially Delta Moon. Slide on the resonator and slide on the banjo, and double-layer slides that weave through each other, it all sounds very creamy and deliciously southern. Occasionally they remind me of North Mississippi All Stars, but their numbers are somewhat more laid-back. Especially Tom’s voice exudes a certain calm. For example, “Get Gone” is a lovely, relaxed song with a banjo in the background, and over that the gently flowing slide tones and Tom’s narrative voice. Fred McDowell’s “You Got to Move” also gets a penetrating, deep treatment.

Tom Gray, however, wrote most of the songs and leaves no doubt to be a good songwriter. Just listen to “Stuck In Carolina” for example. No, without wasting any more words, this is southern roots at its very best, take it from us!


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