Delta Spirit

History from Below

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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming

Delta Spirit scaled themselves back from five to four members before entering the studio to record their second album, History from Below, but the band doesn't sound any less powerful or expansive for losing a guitar player. If anything, History from Below sounds bigger and more ambitious, in terms of both the production and the performances; Delta Spirit (is that the name of a band or an airline?) have refined the melodies which weave together country and blues influences while letting the guitars speak louder, with a pop tunefulness that's leavened by smartly layered guitar work. Listen to the undertow of guitar noise that builds into a thundering storm on "Salt in the Wound," or the sheets of feedback and percussion that ebb and flow through "White Table," and it's clear Delta Spirit learned a lot about what to do with the studio in the two years that separated their debut and History from Below. However, despite a little more polish and a lot more expertise, what was most impressive about Delta Spirit's debut hasn't left them on their sophomore effort -- the songs are smart but straightforward, emotionally honest and accessible even when they're as ambitious as the eight-minute "Ballad of Vitaly," and Matthew Vasquez's vocals carry the weight of the group's rootsy influences without sounding as if he's pretending to be a rube. And "Bushwick Blues" and "Golden State" demonstrate Delta Spirit can rock a good bit harder this time out even as they add some new tricks to their musical arsenal. History from Below is clever, heartfelt, and well-crafted, and suggests this band is solidly building on the promise of their debut.

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