“Hellbound Train” Review in “Blues Bytes” (UK)

January 2010

I reviewed the last Delta Moon CD (Howling At The Southern Moon) in December 2008, so a full year has passed since then. I said at the time that I expected to hear more from this band, and here it is, the prophesy has come true with their latest, Hellbound Train (Blues Boulevard Records)!

The band has changed its lineup, and if anything this CD is more bluesy than the last one. Again, most of the tracks are written, or co-written, by Tom Gray, the exception being Fred McDowell’s “You Got To Move.”

The CD opens with the title track “Hellbound Train,” a medium tempo shuffle that gets your attention immediately with its catchy lyrics and slide guitar, the rest of the band supporting Tom Gray to the full. The other members, by the way, are Mark Johnson (also appeared on the last CD) on guitar and banjo, Franher Joseph on the bass, and Darren Stanley playing the drums.

Track two is a little slower, a story about a girl in hotel room 429, and that’s what it’s called, “Room 429,” then comes “Lonely,” one of my two favourite tracks on the album. It reminds me a little of some of the better ZZ Top material; it has a great feel to it with a driving beat.

Track four, “Get Gone,” showcases Mark Johnson’s six string banjo, giving the song a lovely country blues taste, and it slides into “True Love Lies” whilst getting the beat going.

Fred McDowell’s “You Got To Move” is up next, and it’s one of the best cover versions of the song that I’ve heard for a long time — delicious slide guitar and simple backing. I’m guessing that Fred McDowell must have been an important influence on the band as the last CD also contained one of his tracks.

Then comes my other favourite track, “Stuck In Carolina.” Slow Southern blues with something about it that I can’t identify, but it holds me and makes me want to play the track over and over. Tempo lifts with “Ain’t No Train,” a real foot tapping track that I like more each time that I play it!

The next couple of tracks alternate rhythms and tempos, and lead into the final track of the album, “Plantation Song,” a song about how things were in Dixie.

A very good follow up to Howling At The Southern Moon.

— Terry Clear

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