By: Allison Kurtz – Music Critic
Nashville, Tennessee, has historically been known for country music and, more recently, rock ‘n’ roll. The atmosphere of the city is creating a unique pocket of strong southern bands that draw influences anywhere from classic rock and alternative to bluegrass and country. Usually, all of these influences work together to create an unparalleled sound, while other times the combination just doesn’t mix together.
This is how I felt after seeing Nashville natives The Delta Saints play Friday at Rumba Cafe in Columbus, Ohio. After listening to their music beforehand on Spotify, I thought they weren’t half bad and might sound even better live. However, after I looked up their live videos on YouTube, I became extremely hesitant.
I arrived at the show right as the band was setting up and immediately became excited, regaining some of that lost hope I had felt after watching their YouTube videos. They soon got in position on stage as we all watched the singer take a not-so-subtle selfie, put the phone back in his pocket and finally start to play.
When you google the band, certain musically descriptive words catch your eye on the page: “psychedelic rock,” “blues rock,” “bourbon fueled bayou rock.” Yet, I would use none of these words to describe The Delta Saints. While they definitely try, they’re missing some key components that would make these adjectives an accurate description.
First of all, the singer tends to act like a typical pretty-boy frontman. His dancing and over-exaggerated singing is something that would be more fit for a country boy-band. His guitar was mainly used as an accessory, hanging around his neck with the occasional strumming. This held true when he broke a string at the end of the first song and maintained all elements of the song, while trying to sing and fix it at the same time. While I give him some credit for being able to keep singing while blindly taking a string off, it’s better just left alone and fixed later.
Second, the lyrics go absolutely nowhere. From what I could hear, they sound like poorly written country songs. They have the same old basic country themes with an outlaw twist, yet the songs end and you have no idea what the point of it was.
“They have the same old basic country themes with an outlaw twist, yet the songs end and you have no idea what the point of it was.”
Last, the jams were very overdone. The Delta Saints spent 10 minutes slowly working around the stage giving everyone their turn for a “solo.” While the jam was pretty rock ‘n’ roll, they could have shortened it and actually jammed together instead of just moving around the circle. Adding more to the notion that the singer’s guitar was just an accessory, he spent the majority of the final jam dancing with his guitar and never playing a note.
Despite these aspects of their performance, the band is talented. The guitar player kept a slide on this finger for the majority of the show and really knew how to use it—something you’d never see at a pop country show. The bass player rocked out with groovy bass lines you could hear physically bringing the songs together. The drummer added a nice flare through his somewhat basic beats. Last but certainly not least, the keyboard player tied it all together by giving their sound a certain twist that is usually left for the album and never heard live. This all goes to show that, maybe, without the frontman, they’d actually live up to the descriptions you find when googling them.
Top Three Delta Saints Songs:
“Death Letter Jubilee” – This is their most popular song by far. It sounds like something you’d hear coming out of a bar on Broadway in Nashville, Tennessee.
“Cigarette”- Like I said previously, they tend to follow a typical country format. While this song follows suit, it also does a strong job of utilizing the bands talent.
“Bones”- This is the group’s title track from their most recent album. Listening to it, you can hear how they’ve grown as a band and start to hear a glimpse of that “bourbon fueled bayou rock” they’ve been rumored in having.
Photo by Melissa Madison Fuller, courtesy of Loud and Proud Records.