The Delgado Brothers – Two Trains
Bell Asher Music
11 songs – 56 minutes
2016 International Blues Challenge winners, the Delgado Brothers, released their first, eponymous, album back in 1987. Two Trains, their latest, is only their fifth album overall, a strikingly meager return for such a talented band. Comprising eldest brother Bob Delgado on bass, middle brother Joey Delgado on guitar and vocals, younger brother Steve on drums and vocals, and David B Kelley on Hammond B3, the Delgado Brothers come from the same musically and ethnically rich area of East Los Angeles as Los Lobos, Thee Midniters, The Ambertones and The Shag Rats, all of whom share a common desire to mix and mash both musical genres and expectations. Likewise, the Delgado Brothers happily incorporate blues, roots, rock into a potent cocktail of musical Americana.
Two Trains is beautifully recorded (by Raymond Moore at Brothers Dream Studios in Monrovia, CA) and features some absolutely virtuoso playing (particularly from Joey Delgado and David B Kelly) on 11 original, smartly crafted songs of love, social awareness and tolerance, all sung with deep emotional commitment by Steve. It’s a very, very impressive album.
It is also however a pure rock album. It may be informed by the blues, but the result are total classic rock. There are echoes of the likes of the Doobie Brothers, the Eagles and Steely Dan throughout the album. The funk-rock of “Circle Of Friends” even recalls the Coverdale/Hughes Deep Purple line-up. Indeed, Steve’s vocal mannerisms sometimes recall the best of Glenn Hughes.
There are no flat-out rockers on Two Trains. Instead, the majority of tracks tend to be slower (such as the gentle grind of “450 Mulberry (I Won’t Forget)”, which is dedicated to Dr Martin Luther King, or the country-rock of “Ohana Tennessee”), ballads (such as “Talk To Me” with its beautiful Hammond B-3 from Kelly) or mid-paced (such as the funky “Things Have Changed”, the Huey Lewis-esque “Inspiration” with its country breakdown midway through, the early 80s groove of the title track, or the 60s-soul of “If Only I Could Sing”).
Steve Delgado’s lyrics are worth reading (and are helpfully printed on the insert to the lovingly-packaged CD). On a track like “The River”, the upbeat momentum of the music is in stark contrast to the existential dread in the lyrics.
Guest musicians on the album include Teresa James, Terry Wilson, Billy Watts and John Avila on backing vocals, Ramon Banda on “Timbales Cascada, Anything That Rattles” and Ishmael Pineda on congos and bongos.
Two Trains is a very enjoyable release from the Delgado Brothers, displaying a muscular maturity and confidence throughout as if the band knew they were recording something pretty special. If you’re looking for a modern blues album, there are better places to start your search. If your tastes extend to the classic American rock of the early 1970s, however, you will find much to enjoy on the album.