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Self-titled albums make a statement; it’s what they’re meant to do. Artists choose to ditch fancy titles and name it after their band because they feel like the record represents them. It’s a way of showing confidence. Delta Spirit’s second record is rightfully self-titled as the band returns to the spotlight with their nametags shined and new instruments on stage. They’ve decided this is the music that best represents them, and frankly, they were right.
Normally labeled as an Americana band, Delta Spirit consists of bassist Jon Jameson, drummer Brandon Young, vocalist and guitarist Matthew Vasquez, multi-instrumentalist Kelly Winrich, and guitarist Will McLaren who originally brought an alt-country sound to their first album, Ode to Sunshine. But Delta Spirit use their combined energy and talent on this self-titled record to break that label. They explore electronic sounds and synthesizers instead of the usual trashcans and makeshift instruments.
The album starts off with “Empty House,” continually growing in strength and volume, until a minute of buildup leads to a crash of drumming and Delta Spirit immediately establishes their confidence by breaking into a more solidified sound and sense of self. It’s an extraordinary introduction to the band. An inner happiness is carried in the song that feels like it’s going to burst, but holds off until the next song, “Tear It Up,” to do so.
The opening of “California” sounds like a distorted U2, with powerful strumming that’s begging for Bono to do a countdown in Spanish. The song takes a twist and backs off from the forward beginning as the verses all talk about wishes and wants for another person with a relatively simple backing sound. Vasquez’s vocals on “Home” get a bit of Bruce Springsteen’s rasp and declaration. It’s a breath in the middle of the album, a moment of introspection and contemplation. The opening guitar lines alone are enough to stop chatter and call crowds to listen.
“Otherside” still sounds like it could be played out west, but this time in a teenager’s car with one week until graduation. The pride and excitement that bloom from all of their songs is evident that they not only looked forward to creating this album but to combining all of their parts. If “Otherside” is the pre-graduation track, “Money Saves” is the post. It sticks its feet down with stability and lets fear of reality blow against itself while still keeping its chin up. Things quiet down to make way for a short strumming guitar, soon joined by simple backing drums and faint vocals, a crescendo not too much unlike that of the “Empty House.”
Closing track “Yamaha” shifts the album into low gear. An overall tone of peace and acceptance stains the track as it remains the most calm on the album, never pushing an obvious chorus with a bridge or buildup. Delta Spirit’s voices fade in and out as they sing “You know I can,” over and over in the last minute, a reaffirming sign-off mantra, until the song has ended and listeners are left standing there thinking “You have.” Then there’s silence.
Delta Spirit’s self-titled album is about as complete and thought-out as the ideal self-titled should be with intentions to impact listeners or make a statement. “People make records for their time and we wanted to make one for our time,” Vasquez says on their website. “Just like novelists want to write the Great American Novel, we wanted to make a Great American Record. Not one about yesterday, but one about right now.” Delta Spirit’s focused drive is what led them to confidently make an album that not only represents our time, but one that represents themselves, too.