THE DELTA JACKS - TROUBLE AHEAD
2015 - Self Released
This is the debut album by a talented four piece band from southern Essex, although any listener can be forgiven for thinking they hail from the 'southern' U.S. Whilst there are some tremendous melodies, excellent tuneful playing and vocals it is an album that has a raw edge that is reminiscent of that from the early days of rock 'n' roll recordings.
In many ways The Delta Jacks remind me of a more countrified version of early Los Lobos with even the lead vocals having some common ground as does the all round punch and drive of their music. Nothing is sanitized or over sophisticated but everything is of a consistently high quality from the song writing to the vocals, the original arrangements and the highly skilled musicality from this band that has obviously 'paid its dues.'
The band consists of Ryan Bradshaw on lead vocals, rhythm guitar and harmonica, Dom Bauers, drums and percussion, Greg Beager on bass, keyboards, vocals and percussion, with Trev Reeves, lead guitar, banjo and vocals and all eleven of the excellent songs on the album were written by the Delta Jacks.
Their sound is more country rock 'n' roll than 'country rock,' splitting hairs I know, but whilst there are strong elements of both they are a long way from a classic country rock band, having much more fieriness and 'in your face' attack! On several songs, just to complicate any generic labeling, there is also an incredibly strong bluesiness that on a couple of occasion's draws in a powerful gospel feel. It is that sort of varied album! Despite the variety of generic branches the overall sound of the band holds together incredibly well always having their trademark punch and drive with of course, a strong original rock 'n' roll feel never being too far away and Ryan Bradshaws versatile and melodic vocal style.
The plaintive haunting wail of a harmonica gets album opener Got Me On The Run, underway before the twangy melodic guitar and percussion join in and then the song takes off with a lead vocal that recalls the early days of Los Lobos. It is a song that blends rock 'n' roll with a country element, not necessarily country rock but is certainly a blend of these genres. The title track Trouble Ahead, has a nice banjo start on a song that has a strong a capella element at first before taking off at a speedy mid tempo. Perhaps thanks to the harmonica it is a composition that has a powerful bluesy or even 'hillbilly' feel, with a strong dynamism and attack. The excellent Daemon Girl has a strong hillbilly feel and is led by the banjo, with bass and percussion laying a solid foundation on an excellent song, with Ryan Bradshaws lead vocal even including an excellent yodel! Teddy Bear's repetitive banjo gives the song a quite addictive feel on another excellent tale that has a country, rock 'n' roll or even at times a hillbilly feel, with a really strong lead vocal that works perfectly in this arrangement. Blackened Heart Blues is another tremendous composition, starting as a powerful a cappella gospel song that is further enhanced when first the percussion comes in and the song takes off with harmonica and guitars before reverting back again on this powerhouse that blends both gospel and blues.
The powerful drive, excellent songs and distinctive vocals allied to the tightness and musical skills of this tremendous band should be enough to guarantee success if there was any justice in the music business. We know there isn't, but if you buy this hugely listenable album you won't regret it and you can help spread the word that there is some great American roots music talent that hails from the U.K. This band is certainly one of the best of them!