Friday, August 17, 2012

Delta Moon -- "Black Cat Oil"

Thanks to my friend the Blues Pilot Mark Smith, I started as a DJ on Sunday nights at KJLU at Lincoln University in Jefferson City Missouri in 2005, playing the blues from 8pm-midnight. This blog is named after that radio show. I would borrow armloads of old blues cds from the station's basement and listen to find a gem or two to share that next Sunday night. In the beginning I would listen to 50 or 60 cds each week--ten or twelve a day--and I actually listened to every minute of every song on every cd. Well, one of the first bands I found and really liked in those days was Delta Moon. They were based in Atlanta Georgia. I liked them because they had lots of things going on--on those early records they had a female vocalist, and a tough twin-guitar attack, and a killer rhythm section, and they wrote good and sometimes funny songs too. Tom Gray wrote most of the songs, and Gina Leigh sang with him on a lot of them. Well, from 2002 until now, and over the course of six good releases, many things changed with Delta Moon. For a while I heard that they had even whittled it down to just a slide guitar duo. But still they had the great songwriting skills of Tom Gray, and those guitars, and I kept loving them. And I still do.

Black Cat Oil was released on May 22, featuring founding members Tom Gray (vocals, guitar, steel guitar, keyboards, dulcimer) and Mark Johnson (guitar), along with Franher Joseph (bass, backing vocals) and Marlon Patton (drums). Joseph & Patton have been on board since 2007. Tom Gray wrote ten of the songs. There is a cover of Mississippi Fred McDowell's "Write Me A Few Of Your Lines" that fits in perfectly. On this their 7th release, Delta Moon does what it always has--make good rootsy/bluesy music built around really good lyrics, great guitar lines, and swinging rhythms.

Everything starts off with "Down And Dirty" and "Blues In A Bottle" which are primers on what Delta Moon has been doing for the past decade. If you like these songs, do yourself a favor and go pick up the early Delta Moon catalog. "Walk Out In The River" is a little less bluesy and a little more rootsy but still really good. There are a lot of roots bands that wish they could make just one song as good as this. Then the title track, which features super solid bass work by Franher Joseph, and "Wishbone," which is a traveling song. (That's kind of like saying Dylan's "Like A Rolling Stone" is a put down song, but you'll get the idea.)  Then "Black Coffee," another song about traveling--this time about driving from New York City to Atlanta to be with someone you love. "Neon Jesus" is my favorite song here, and it is a riveting experience. If I ever had to testify why Tom Gray is such a good songwriter, this is exhibit # 1. Just listen to it--the chorus may stick with you for quite a while.

I could walk you through the rest of the songs--they're each just as good as the ones I just described--but the bottom line is that is a very fine release. Delta Moon has been around for a  long time making tough, smart, good music. You ought to check them out. I still regret that I didn't hear that first cd when it came out in 2002, and I remember how it blew me away when I finally heard it in 2005.

You can buy Black Cat Oil and all of Delta Moon's cds at:        

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