Delta Rae
After It All


3.0
good

Review

by Ben Kupiszewski USER (15 Reviews)
April 9th, 2015 | 13 replies


Release Date: 05/07/2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Good but not great, Delta Rae plays it too safe to really draw the attention its members' abilities are primed to entice.

The appeal of blues, folk and other Americana music is how personal it is. Its lyrical storytelling and modest, yet raw instrumentation enables for a full, sensual experience to appreciate the artistry that provides it. Thus, there in lies the allure of six-piece Delta Rae and its bare vocal harmonies within folk rock melodies, or at least it did. On the Durham, North Carolina, natives’ sophomore release, After It All, the group’s greatest strength is diluted and traded for what obviously is an attempt to reach a greater audience.

Not that such a move is necessarily a strategy we should sneer at. The Bohemian lifestyle is not as glamorous as movies like Rent portray; artists need to eat, after all. But for those who are familiar and fond of 2012’s Carry the Fire, the earnestness in tracks like “If I Loved You” and “Bottom of the River” and are expecting more The Civil Wars than The Band Perry will probably be a little disappointed here.

From the get-go, intimacy is damned. The generic piano arpeggios in “Anthem” give way to garish orchestral force. On the subsequent “Run,” guitar is eschewed for grand strings, and the bombast of horns is likewise preferred in “Outlaws.” With the exception of “I Will Never Die,” which is classic Delta Rae, the subtleties of Ian Holljes’ guitar and Grant Emerson’s bass and the outfit’s overall musicianship are often toned down throughout for more emphasis on the group’s vocal harmonies, as well as the alternated lead vocals of Holljes’ siblings, Eric and Brittany, and for the superlative voice of the troupe in Elizabeth Hopkins.

The track that epitomizes and suffers the most from major label fine-tuning and tampering is “Chasing Twisters,” which can be summarized as the radio edit of the Spaghetti Western-inspired original found on the eponymous EP. The cantering guitar and percussion rhythms in the windup verses are nearly stripped completely for the sheen and slickness of the keyboard. This production aesthetic is stylistically dissonant with and diminishes the excellent and gritty Wild West-themed lyrics: I was born with lightning in my heels/sewed a spur onto my ankle/bitter horse under the steel/And I lost hope when I was still young/had an angel on my shoulder/but the Devil always won. The EP version maturely runs just under five minutes, while After It All’s take is truncated to seconds less than three and a half, as it cuts out a chorus and meshes the bridge and coda of the first for a streamlined ending. Such songwriting is a mistake, given the rousing refrain is the payoff for the prolonged buildup and shouldn’t be hidden under a bushel, especially when the stellar Hopkins punctuates it. Although “Chasing Twisters” on the record remains a highlight, in large part due to her inflections, it’s not what it could have been, or more accurately, what it has been, and that’s a shame.

Frustrations like these aside, a neutered Delta Rae is still an enjoyable Delta Rae. There’s no denying the sextet is talented even when on cruise control. Lead single “Scared” is a sultry, Gavin DeGraw-type number that blooms to cast a gothic gospel spell before hauntingly fading. It’s difficult not to succumb to the foot-stomping exuberance of up-tempo rocker “Bethlehem Steel.” “Dead End Road” and “Cold Day in Heaven” both certainly have mainstream country crossover potential and showcases the knack the group has vocal harmonies. Additionally, the infectious “My Whole Life Long” is right in the wheelhouse of country radio giants Lady Antebellum. Undoubtedly, Delta Rae is consistent in quality on After It All.

Be it as it is, there really was no need to tweak the group’s sound to channel the pop rock of Abba or to imitate the likes of acts like Thompson Square to ensnare the masses. The band was already accessible, yet fulfilling like the above-mentioned The Civil Wars or ZZ Ward. On the contrary, After It All amounts to mere titillation -- easy on the ears but lacking replay value outside a few listens. It should leave newcomer and longtime fans alike with a thirst for more that presumably only a live Delta Rae performance could slake.

Recommended tracks:
"Scared"
"Chasing Twisters"
"Cold Day in Heaven"
"I Will Never Die"



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user ratings (6)
Chart.
3.3
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Kupasexy15
April 9th 2015


334 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Probably reads a little like a 2.5, but whatever. Here's a link to the better version of "Chasing Twisters":



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECwChQ3xMgs

bnelso55
April 9th 2015


1320 Comments


Great review. Well-written and informative. That said, I'll probably pass on this album and check out their debut. It sounds more like something I may enjoy.

Kupasexy15
April 9th 2015


334 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks, bnelso 55. The deluxe edition of their debut makes it a little long, but it's not as nearly watered down.

Napolesonic
April 15th 2015


53 Comments


Nice review kupa, have a pos.

I submitted DR to the database sometime last year; thanks to you its wings are spreading!

Kupasexy15
April 15th 2015


334 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Napole, thanks. Yeah, they deserve definitely to be heard. Undoubtedly, most of this material would be better live, as per the group's strength.

mfrguitar127
April 20th 2015


3 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I definitely agree that this album doesn't have a strong replay value. I REALLY like the song "Scared". That one gets stuck in my head. Overall, I definitely enjoyed the album.

If there is one thing that I am glad they didn't carry over from their first album, it would be including a fingers-on-a-chalkboard sounding song like "Fire, Fire, Fire". That song is horribly grating, and I know they were intending to give off that kind of dissonant, panicky atmosphere, but it's not even listenable, in my opinion.

Kupasexy15
April 20th 2015


334 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah, "Scared" is good track.

mvdu
April 21st 2015


762 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

They definitely do not play it too safe in my opinion. My only complaint is some songs like Run could be extended, and Dream sounds like a good idea for a song and not interlude. The previous album had a few generic songs but was still enjoyable - this album I think is far from generic.

Kupasexy15
April 22nd 2015


334 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I don't know. I feel like this is slick and shiny and not as organic as Carry the Fire.

mfrguitar127
April 23rd 2015


3 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, this album has definitely lost most of the organic feel that Carry The Fire had, but I agree with mvdu that it certainly isn't generic.

Kupasexy15
April 26th 2015


334 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Hmmm...that's not what I heard. I just feel at times it's pretty close to mainstream country, which is generic.

mfrguitar127
April 29th 2015


3 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It would almost seem that the album is half and half. Some songs are as you described, and others are pretty unique, in my opinion. I tend to be pretty lenient towards music that I enjoy, so I generally focus on the aspects that I like about the album, and consequently refer to the whole album as "not generic".

Kupasexy15
May 11th 2015


334 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

That's probably a fair way to look at it., mf.



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