New Orleans’ twisted take on Americana is naturally faster, funnier, funkier, and drunkier than Appalachian balladry or baroque folk or Southern garage blues or whatever. And at first blush, it looks like you’re about to get more of the same from Deltaphonic, especially if you missed last year’s debut EP Outlaw: The cover of the new album paints an alien mural on a car and then sets it on fire in the middle of nowhere, as if titles like “Skank,” “Jailbird,” “Two Cigarettes” and “Forgiveness” didn’t already clue you in.
Listen closely to this local roots power trio, however, and you’ll find a surprising depth, not just in leader Andrew T. Weekes’ compositions, but in his arrangements as well. Yes, these 11 tracks work just fine as road trip music for problem drinkers who like to think of themselves as one step ahead of the law, but there’s a real humanity here, not to mention the kind of regret you can only feel once opportunities and not just dive bars start closing.
Usually you feel it in the bitter chill of a minor key or a sad harmony that blows in out of nowhere, but occasionally a shift in musical direction happens, too, like the band inexplicably shifting into disco in the middle of “The City” or getting reflective in the apocalypse of “Six Miles” or suddenly backing off their typical Clutchy redneck vocals and badass wah-wah to contemplate the true nature of “Forgiveness.” And “Skank” is… okay, that one’s pretty much one-dimensional (“Met her down by the Flying J”), though not to the point of slut-shaming (“Still she hopes I’m shooting blanks… I’m a skank too”).
Most impressive might be the way Weekes keeps Deltaphonic from wearing out their welcome—there’s not a wasted note here, and even the contemplative stuff makes its case in five minutes. All that introspection starts to kill the party near the end of Texas, Texas, but it seems like a fitting end: Weekes even throws in a hidden track of nonsense, as if to confirm that he’s ultimately running from his own truth. Those bad boys, always afraid of their feels, am I right?