Delta Moon – Low Down
By Graham Clarke
Delta Moon consists of the slide guitar duo Tom Gray and Mark Johnson, along with bassist Franher Joseph and drummer Vic Stafford. Winner of the 2003 International Blues Challenge, the Atlanta-based band has expanded their audience over the years to include strong followings in the greater U.S., Canada, and Europe, due to their relentless touring. Apparently, they’re pretty busy recording when they’re not touring, because Low Down (Jumping Jack Records) is the Atlanta-based band’s tenth album, which features a dozen songs, ten originals and three covers.
If you’re not familiar with the band’s sound, the opening cut, “Wrong Side of Town,” should get you on board pretty quickly. It features Johnson’s slide work and he really burns it up on this funky rocker. “Afterglow,” the next tune, ventures into Second Line territory, and “Nothing You Can Tell A Fool” has a swampy rhythm and more exquisite slide from Johnson (plus backing vocals from Francine Reed). “Mean Streak” is a gritty rocker with Gray adding keyboards to the mix, and the bluesy title track, a Tom Waits tune, benefits from a Gray’s gravelly vocal and Johnson’s slide.
You can almost feel the humidity of a Mississippi summer day in the band’s cover of Bob Dylan’s “Down In the Flood,” which features Ms. Reed again on backing vocals, and Gray picks up the harmonica on “Open All Night,” then goes toe to toe with Johnson on slide. The twin slide guitars resurface on the catchy “Spark In The Dark,” then ease into a tasty version of Skip James’ classic “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues,” which has some amazing work from Gray and Johnson on Dobro and electric steel. “Mayfly” is a nice country rocker, and “Jelly Roll” is a swampy blues with an irresistible rhythm. The closer, “Jackie Ray,” is a funky blues rocker.
Gray’s warm vocal style is a perfect complement to his and Johnson’s fabulous slide guitar and the tight rhythm section Though it will definitely please fans of slide guitar, Low Down has a smooth laid back vibe that will appeal to blues and roots fans in general.