Jessica Hernandez / Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas

Demons

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AllMusic Review by

Demons is the first new studio work to appear from Detroit's Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas since 2010's Weird Looking Women in Too Many Clothes EP. Its five tracks include two that have long been part of the band's live repertoire as well as three brand-new songs. Taken together, they reveal the astonishing diversity in this group's rock & roll attack. Demons appears on Richard Gotteher's Instant label. While the band had been signed to Blue Note Records, its takeover by Universal dictated that the Deltas go their own way. Given Gotteher's established track record, it was the right choice. The title track opener makes the transition from concert favorite to recording studio beautifully. It, "Caught Up," and "Shadow Boy" were produced by Milo Froideval. He augments the Deltas quartet with horns, the Iveys on backing vocals, and a wash of percussion and synths. The studio version keeps the hook, yet Hernandez's soulful, emotive wail (once you hear it, you'll never forget it) is buoyed by a dramatic undercurrent of near cinematic yet undeniably rootsy Motor City rock. "Caught Up," with its pronounced basslines, surf guitars, and slamming drums, is trashier and more immediate, but the wall of backing vocals pushes Hernandez out on the ledge and she lets it rip. Introduced by an organ, "Shadow Boy" is a re-recorded version of a track from a giveaway single. This one, with its fat reeds, brass, organ, and rolling tom-toms, is a rumbling, dramatic, bitter love song that melds soul, neo-psych, and vocal theatrics worthy of Ronnie Spector. "Big Town" and "Picture Me with You (Carnie Threesome)" were self-produced. On the former, she lets her love of Tom Waits come to the fore, with fat-bottom jazzy trombone, upright piano, and effects-laden synth in a strutting, carnivalesque 4/4 with dreamy slide guitars painting the backdrop. Introduced by an organ, the carnival vibe also frames the latter, as do the sinister tom-toms and bent yet swinging trombones. It's a twisted love song where rock & roll, dubwise reggae, and Italian tarantella all wind together in a fat, post-psych meld, highlighted by its sophisticated, fingerpopping arrangements and the passion in Hernandez's vocal, which sends the record off with a steamy, sultry vibe. Demons provides a solid introduction to Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas' multifaceted, ambitious, and already trademark sound.

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