Delta RaeDelta Rae
Album: After It All
Label: Warner Brothers
Tracks: 14

So, that 'difficult' 2nd album syndrome, and North Carolina's Delta Rae meet in a head-on collision and something has to give! And to be honest it's a close run thing, but the 3 Holljes siblings (Ian, Eric and Brittany) along with Elizabeth Hopkins, Mike McKee and Grant Emerson have dealt with the eternal themes of love, death, aspiration and struggle by transplanting the experiences of post-recession modern age back in time to the vividly dramatic folklore of deep south frontier America and the potential signified in that time, which is intriguingly at odds with the colossal musical landscape that sprawls to varying degrees of listenability throughout the album.

"Our goals for the record were to make something cinematic, romantic and American" says Eric. Well, the first two objectives have been achieved in some style! But 'American'? Not to these anglophilic ears. Interestingly the album press release proclaims Delta Rae to be a soulful blues and folk rock sextet, soulful yes, in the broadest sense of the word, but folk rock? Not on this album that's for sure.

With most songs lingering around the ubiquitous three minute mark, and a squeaky clean note perfect production it's clear to see what market Warner Brothers are aiming for. Proof of that can be heard on "You're The One For Me", "The Meaning Of It All", "My Whole Life Long" and the title track "After It All" which veer frighteningly into sterile, soulless, and just plain bland pop territory. No soul there I'm afraid.

However, the heart and soul of Delta Rae is in there somewhere, beating steadily beneath the major record company sheen. "Run" revolves around a chunky rolling string section riff and Brittany Holljes' forthright and energetic vocal delivery. This is what the band do best, and "Outlaws" continues in that vein with big bad brass refrains and finely honed harmonies propelling the song along to an apocalyptic climax.

The psychotic wailing gospel ramblings of "Bottom Of The River" surely steals the show though, and is quite starkly at odds with what follows after. A monster of a live favourite if there ever was one, building slowly to unholy dissonance. The simplest song on the entire album and the most effective. A lesson there surely?

Delta Rae are 4 good looking guys and 2 great looking girls, and "After It All" is built upon an obviously significant budget from a major record label. Add into that 3 different producers and an army of additional musicians, and it's not too difficult to see the destination that is being plotted for them. Whether that's to their artistic detriment only time will ultimately tell, but for now they're keeping their heads just above the water on this lucky dip of an album.

Ken Brown