Taking a temporary break from Richmond Fontaine (who have a new album in the pipeline) Willy Vlautin has taken the opportunity to write and record some songs written with Damnations vocalist Amy Boone in mind to sing. The end result is an album of sultry country soul that has a light night laid back feel that soon finds it’s way into your head and heart. Nothing here is overplayed, rather all the songs are delivered with the confidence that comes from mutual respect. The players individual, undeniable talents are merged for a equally shared group experience.
The songs by Vlautin are his usual studies of human nature, when those humans are faced, more often than not, with having to deal with the mundanity and spiritual malnutrition that life on the line tends to offer. Yet there’s always something in his songs that offers glimmers of hope and opportunity. Boone has a voice capable of delivering the empathy that is important for these songs to work as the should. Her delivery makes every word legible so that you are carried into the heart of the proponents lives. There is something of Jimmy Webb in these songs, in the way the deal with people and place, that are at the heart of good country songwriting. Tucker Jackson’s evocative pedal steel adds much to underscore that. But they also manage to transcend genre making them appeal to those to whom country music generally is an anathema.
The other members of The Delines include bassist Freddy Trujillo, keyboard player Jenny Conlee-Drizos and Richmond Fontaine drummer Sean Oldham all bring their A game and deliver much to the overall sound of the album. Whether this is a one-off or, it is to be hoped, the first of a series Colfax is an album to savour and enjoy. Co-produced by John Askew with Oldham and Vlautin it has a warmth and fluidity that sometimes gets lost in studio polish but here the patina is of something well-worn and lived in.