Delta Tom – Straight To Hell (Thanks A Bunch)
Self-Release – 2020
11 tracks; 37 minutes
Based in Cambridge, UK, Tom Colborn plays traditional country blues in his guise as Delta Tom. From the scant information available this appears to be his first release and is a blend of original tunes (some with an ironic twist) and familiar covers. The quirky sense of humor starts with the ‘Live At The Leper Chapel’ tag as this definitely sounds like a studio recording.
Tom’s PR describes his music as ‘Rambunctious Ragtime, Bombastic Bottleneck and Hip Harmonica’ and here he accompanies himself on guitar (no sign of the harmonica), showing that he is a good picker on instrumentals like the stately “Great Eastern Rag” and the fast-paced “Yellowhammer” which must be a considerable challenge to play. “Silverfish Rag” does what the title suggests but “Klezomania” is quite different with an Eastern feel to the intro before the tune develops along more of an Eastern European route, the title presumably referencing klezmer music.
The three covers are all traditional songs arranged by Tom. “St James Infirmary Blues” is played gently with the tragedy of the song conveyed by some rather histrionic singing. A decent take on “Keep Your Lamp Trimmed And Burning” and a jaunty bottleneck version of “Bye And Bye” concludes the traditional songs.
There are four original songs: “Gravitation” finds Tom musing on Newton’s law and applying it, quite controversially, to recent history like the 9/11 attacks, with the refrain “every empire will fall”. The title track ironically thanks Charlie Patton for turning Tom into a bluesman, Tom accentuating his English roots with a strong accent and several words that may need translating for American audiences! “Who Do You Think You’re Foolin’?” is a quiet song about a relationship that is clearly over and “Supermarket Love Failure Blues” is an amusing account of Tom’s attempt to play it cool with a beautiful stranger in a grocery store: “Why, tell me why, these beautiful women seem so out of reach? I felt so sick in my mind that I forgot to pick up the bleach”.
The vocals are nowhere as good as the playing, unfortunately. Some of the lyrics are really fun but their vocal delivery makes the disc an acquired taste.