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Tuesday 25 June 2024

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The Sea Drift – The Delines

Feb 24, 2022

Willy Vlautin’s creative spirit broadly captures everyday people in America today who are trying to make the best of the hardships in their lives. Having started Richmond Fontaine as an outlet for his songs, several novels have appeared that cover similar territory. Then, he began writing songs that demanded a more soulful approach than that of the rock oriented Richmond Fontaine. From this shift was born The Delines which includes familiar faces from the Richmond Fontaine line-up but centres around Amy Boone as lead vocalist.

‘The Sea Drift’ is the latest album and continues their successful soulful approach, this time, in a seaside setting of down at heel, seedy glitz. Vlautin captures the mood via the vivid characters painted in the lyrics of the tales told in songs, alongside a handful of mood shaping instrumentals. That’s not to say that the album is a book shaped into a musical but the sketches in song do get better held together by having that seaside theme.

The Delines The Sea Drift

The brothers driving into town to hunt down hospital treatment in the opening track, ‘Little Earl’, echo characters found in Vlautin’s novel, ‘The Motel Life’. Musically, the keyboard and horn interplay sets the melancholic mood that’s a perfect vehicle for the vocal of Boone. It’s a combination that pervades the album and one that we should credit to Cory Gray who also handles several other string and horn arrangements. Gray works alongside producer, John Morgan Askew, and the pair shape the sound that’s at heart of the record.

Several tracks portray a couple whose ebb and flow mirrors that of the sea. Whether that be one of them being arrested on ‘Surfers In Twilight’ or the tenderness of love on ‘Hold Me Slow’. These portraits of moments in time can be read as standalone tales but ‘The Sea Drift’ shows the value of gathering them together as a satisfying whole on one album.

Often described as purveyors of country soul, The Delines’ use of horns on this latest record adds a sliver of jazz to the mix and helps their sound to plunge to even more melancholic depths. It’s good to find their music developing even further on ‘The Sea Drift’ where its tales of shifting souls capture The Delines at their finest.

Steve Henderson


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