Two years ago, Deltaphonic’s debut full-length debut, Texas Texas, came out of nowhere to redefine, despite its title, that distinctly New Orleans blend of blues, rock and funk that rules the Red Solo Cup crowd. Like everyone else in this town, they had hard-luck tales and groove to spare, but their blend was truly unique, relying heavily on quality singer-songwriter introspection from leader Andrew T. Weekes and trimming down the jam-band excesses of their contemporaries. The car that graced the front of their album—beat up, broken down, covered with street art and completely ablaze—set the tone for what was inside, but their long-awaited follow-up features the same car (for all anyone can tell, it’s the same photo), this time sepia-toned and with a much bigger logo screaming over the top.
This also makes sense. Because while they’ve been away, Deltaphonic have apparently been working to erase the pencil lines entirely on whatever genre it is they inhabit. See Red not only finds the band more comfortable in several styles at once, the production this time around gives them, for the first time, a signature sound. It’s an atmosphere that’s raw enough to be live but psychedelic enough to be cerebral: if you opened a lounge outdoors in a graveyard next to a swamp, this would be the only album you’d need on the jukebox.
Their new backwoods mystik only augments their trademark smirking despair; a lot of bands in this town provide songs to drink and get hungover to, but Deltaphonic at this point staggers with the Jack Sparrow-like swag of a character who’s come to expect that he’s doomed and is just trying to make his damnation as stylish as possible; “Black Magic,” to give just one example, is the most charming cuckolding you’ll ever witness. The chorus that backs Weekes on beautifully ramshackle constructions like “Too Late to Hang Me” could be a gospel choir, a Greek chorus, or a gaggle of dead pirates; the way this band works, it might be all three. NOLA finally has an answer for the Black Keys and the White Stripes—dark Americana with history’s dust shaken off.