New Orleans isn’t the first place you’d expect to hear classic country music although in the past few years acts such as Hurray For The Riff Raff and Gal Holiday have proved that pedal steel can cut it in the Crescent City. now along come The Deslondes, a five piece band who sound as if they’ve been marinated in old time country spiced up with some blues and soul, the end result a very fine ramshackle sound that can be likened to The Band, The Felice Brothers or even Doug Sahm (on the fiddle sawed Same Blood As Mine). And while they don’t (as yet) achieve the heights of these acts this debut album is a heart warming collection of songs that variously swing, rock or pull at the heart.
Some of the band have been together for several years (recording as The Tumbleweeds) and have strong ties with Alynda Lee Segarra (of Hurray For The Riff Raff) before eventually coalescing as The Deslondes. With several songwriters in the fold and four of the band able to sing lead there’s variety aplenty on the album and despite the country tag we’re pushing here theres’ a definite Big Easy influence at play most evident on the opening and closing songs. I Fought The Blues And Won rides on a Fats Domino like piano riff with a laidback singalong quality. Out On The Rise is starker with the piano more in tune with barrelhouse blues and a clarinet solo nailing the NO vibe although a lonesome pedal steel cries throughout.
Sandwiched between these is the fine country gospel of Those Were (Could’ve Been) the Days and the trucking Less Honkin’ More Tonkin’ (guaranteed to please fans of Junior Brown or Bill Kirchen), the spaghetti western twang of Time To Believe In and the Johnny Cash meets Ricky Nelson chicka boom of Louise. There are laments. Simple and True stumbles and starts fitfully and Heavenly Home is a mighty slice of pedal steel garnished southern grit. Best of all is the lonesome howl of Low Down Soul which is indeed indebted to Hank Williams and well worthy of being mentioned in the same breath.
The Deslondes (Sam Doores vocals/guitar, Riley Downing vocals/guitar, Dan Cutler vocals/stand-up bass, Cameron Snyder vocals/percussion and John James Tourville pedal steel/fiddle) play several UK shows this week, dates here. There’s a fine interview with the band from Uncut magazine which you can read here.