Delta Spirit | Live from the Waits Room (Rounder Records)

You can envision lead singer Matt Vasquez tearing up the inside of the Waits Room while recording it.

Delta Spirit will be releasing Live from the Waits Room, a 5-song EP, as digital download and limited edition vinyl on November 16th. The EP was recorded earlier this year, at the same time as their full-length album History From Below. Two of the tracks are different versions of songs from that album, but the band also adds some blues, a song reminiscent of old American folk and a song that provides a glimpse of this band’s ongoing growth. The EP is well-written, well-performed and offers more proof that Delta Spirit has what it takes to create raw, heartfelt music that manages to be both polished and deliciously rough.



The first song, "The Flood," sounds like an old folk round, simple and yet achingly sad. The entire song is sung in harmony with guitar backing. It tells the story of the Biblical flood that lasted forty days and forty nights. The song is written from the point of view of an unlikely narrator: a tree. It starts with the tree promising love to the dove, seeing the flood coming and happily thinking “peace has come.” Once the flood ends, the dove leaves on its trip across the ocean, causing the tree to cry. The song ends with the lament, “Seen man come, seen man gone, little bird we got it wrong, man had found no peace.” The message is melancholy, but the layered harmonies give the song an inescapable warmth. It is not only the best song on the EP, but it’s one of the best songs the band has ever released.



The next two songs, "Bushwick Blues" and "Devil Knows You’re Dead," are both on the most recent full-length album, History From Below. The most obvious difference between the two versions of "Bushwick Blues" is that this rendition is much less fervent; it lacks the absolutely insane drumming that Brandon Young performed on the album. Brandon is still there, of course, but the song takes on a completely different tone that makes the listener think of slow, sexy afternoons, as opposed to the manic pace of the cusp of adulthood. The renditions of "Devil Knows You’re Dead" are more similar, though the Waits Room version is much more raw. You can hear the “echo chamber” effect of the Waits Room’s acoustics more on this song than on any other on the EP.



"John Henry," a new version of an old blues classic, is far and away the loudest song on the EP—it’s almost completely juxtaposed to "The Flood."  Where "The Flood" offers quietly powerful harmonies, "John Henry" is loudly powerful disharmony. You can envision lead singer Matt Vasquez tearing up the inside of the Waits Room while recording it. This isn’t to say the song is sonically messy or unenjoyable—quite the opposite. This is a great song recorded, and it will no doubt be fantastic live. The band manages to convey the raw energy one would equate with its mythical namesake: a "railroad man” who would challenge a steam-powered hammer with his own brute strength.



"My Dream" is the last song, and following a song as energetic as "John Henry" could have easily have  made it seem like an afterthought, but it is quietly dominating in its own right. It is sultry, but with a lyrical maturity that shows the band’s growth. The song rambles a bit, but in a good way that makes it seem comforting rather than overly long. It’s a fitting end to a solid EP. A | Teresa Montgomery
 

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