When I listen to indie rock music, and rock music in general, there are a few things that I listen for that make an impression on me. Obviously, the vocal quality and the way that quality interacts with the music is the first thing that sticks out. This is one of the reasons I think Nirvana is so overrated. After that, I look at the balance of lyrics to music. Often times, I feel like we accept crappily written songs because the music sounds good. I’m as guilty of this as anyone else, but it’s inexcusable nonetheless. It’s not great music unless all of its parts are great. Lastly, I think about versatility of a band. If a band can have more than one singer and a sound that is both unique and different on the album, yet still cohesive, then that, to me, is the trademark of a great band.
That being said, we come to why we’re really here today, to talk about Delta Rae. You ought to go down and hit play on the YouTube videos below just to listen as you’re reading. You’ll better understand what I’m trying to say. Delta Rae, a 6 piece band, has a sound that is becoming popularly categorized as “chamber rock”. Essentially that means that you’ve got 6 people either playing with or sounding like an orchestra. Delta Rae uses strings, claps, four part harmonies, chains, and Broadway caliber voices to create a sound that’s both unique and familiar at the same time.
The album, from top to bottom, will stand, undoubtedly, as one of this year’s best. It’s an album that introduces you to a group that immediately makes you question listening to anything else. If you’re a fan of Broadway music, rock, Southern soul music, pop, singer songwriters, or folk, you’ll find something to like and more on this album. From “Holding on to Good” and strong female vocals to “Hey, Hey, Hey” and the four part harmonies that really make the band stand out, this is an INCREDIBLE album.
Here’s “Hey, Hey, Hey”:
“Holding on to Good”, the album’s first track, is a song that starts pianos and drums and then fades to introduce lyrics like “Baby, I’m not waiting, I’m just holding on to good” and talks of band member Brittany’s decision to leave her first love and go to North Carolina to join the band and make music. “I’ve met a new love and I’m growing into him” is an awesome way to talk about music and the impact it has. Another personal song is “If I Loved You”, a song about how easy and happy life would be if only the singer loved the person the song is about. It’s an incredibly sad song, one that’s almost hard to listen to, and no doubt difficult to sing as well.
It’s so hard to not just talk about every single song on the album, it’s that good. “Dance in the Graveyard” is a great song led by great, unique percussion and the thought that, after death, the singer wants to dance in the graveyard instead of just laying in the ground. “Surrounded” starts off with horns, lots of horns, like a whole orchestra of horns, and it’s a thoughtful song about being surrounded by the past and the ghosts of people and events past. “Hey, Hey, Hey” is perhaps the best introduction to the band’s sound, starting acappella with four part harmonies and alternating between strong male and female vocals. “Is There Anyone Out There?” is an awesome song about disillusionment.
There are three songs here that deserve special attention, though. The first is “Morning Comes”, a song about being satisfied and proud of the small accomplishments of life and finding a way to deal with the times in between. “But I’m keeping it steady, that’s just how I was raised,/ Head held up, walking tall into each breaking wave” and “Jealous is the night when the morning comes, but it always comes.” It’s an awesome rock song that really stands out thanks to clear vocals and excellent, personal lyrics.
Next is “Bottom of the River”. this song was clearly inspired by Southern spirituals and it’s a worthy addition to that group. Featuring some of the strongest vocals on the album and unique percussion with chains, it begins “hold my head, oh, baby,/ It’s a long way down to the bottom of the river.” It’s sure to wow and impress anyone that listens to it, a song that provides a ton of layered sounds with very little instrumentation.
Lastly, “Country House”, a song about loneliness, is one of those songs that you understand, not conceptually, but completely, as a person who has experienced something universal. It’s a song about universally understood emotions and is impossible to avoid. Listening to it can be difficult, but it’s cathartic and valuable.
If “Carry the Fire” is any indication of what this band is capable of, get the album now so that you can tell your friends that you heard of them first. If this album isn’t more popular soon, I’ll be shocked because it might very well be the best album this year. It’s hard to imagine another band doing what this band has done with a debut.