Set up like a record album, the back panel of the CD packaging for the fourth Delta Generators release lists the first five tracks under the heading, Hipshakers. The disc disc opens with some beefy harp tones and cutting slide guitar. Lead singer Craig Rawding adds his sturdy voice to the mix, turning “Day That I Met You” into a rousing celebration of love. The follow-up track, “Elephant In The Room,” centers on Charlie O’Neal’s tough slide licks and Rawding’s multi-tracked vocal.
If the dance floor hasn’t filled by now, the super-charged “Two Headed Snake” will definitely stimulate some frantic hip-shaking. When Keri Anderson’s sweet voice joins Rawding, the duo deliver a soulful rendition of “Feel No Pain,” an ode to relaxing at the end of the work day. The energy level cranks up again on “Strike The Bells,” a fervent love song featuring a Rawding vocal that approaches Kim Wilson-like intensity with Dan Kenney pounding the piano to keep the singer motivated. The rhythm section of Rick O’Neal on bass and Jeff Armstrong on drums is rock-solid through out the disc. O’Neal had to learn a new manner of playing bass in order to deal with the effects of a major stroke he suffered as the band was starting preparations for recording the new project.
The pace slows on “Tumble Away” leading off the Heartbreakers half. John Cooke on organ plays with the requisite feel that is matched by Charlie O’Neal’s tender guitar picking. Rawding is at wits end on “Bastard’s Lament,” a man contemplating the arc of a life that has left him alone, shunned by family and friends. The disconsolate spiral continues on “Way Down,” full of menacing slide guitar and mournful harp blasts matched by the singer’s agonizing cries. The cleverly titled “Tom Waits For No One” is a countrified bar-room weeper that is a wide departure from the rest of the disc’s material. The closing tune, “Something Good,” is a touching ballad featuring another strong vocal turn from Rawding, using the harp to echo his voice.
To their credit, the Delta Generators keep the focus on their interesting batch of original songs. Solos are short & succinct – truly a rarity in this day & age. The rocking cuts are delivered with a palpable sense of energy while Rawding draws listeners in on the ballads, consistently generating a genuine emotional reaction. A fine mixture of American roots music, played by a band that respects the music. Make a point to check this one out……