Music Review

Book Reviews and Reading Diary
CD Buying Guide and Music Links
Best-of lists
CD Reviews
CDs, sorted by Style
CDs, sorted by year issued
CDs, sorted by publication review ran in
CDs by San Diego bands
All CDs, sorted by band name
All CDs, sorted by album title
Favorite quotations
Contact Me

The band is the instrument

Ode to Sunshine
Ode to Sunshine
By Delta Spirit

Self-released: 2008

Buy it on CD now from
Buy it now

This review first appeared in the January 31, 2008 issue of the North County Blade-Citizen (now North County Times).

It's not so much that the end result sounds much like the music of the legendary rock outfit The Band, but the recipe is similar on the debut album from San Diego's Delta Spirit. Blues and soul, country and jazz, all mixed up together with a huge dash of theatrical bravado and stellar playing.

Neither the album's liner notes nor it's MySpace and Web pages provide anything other than last names for the members of the quintet, but the guitars, keyboards, bass and percussion combine into a single instrument. Or, more precisely, as the late Stanley Dance once wrote of Duke Ellington, the band is the instrument. Their ability to come up with arrangements that draw on the distinctive sound of each instrument to provide a dash of color or inject a bit of melancholy or pure joy – well, it's Beatlesque is what it is. They even use some horns as a nice bit of punctuation and shadow on the title track.

But what makes it all come together – the gorgeous vocal harmonies, the virtuosic playing, the sophisticated arrangements – are the songs. The band wrote all 10 tracks here, and as with Paul McCartney's mid-'70s albums with Wings, there are no throwaway or filler songs here. Each song is a nugget of pop purity, and each song seems to get the benefit of the band's full attention.

The end result? An atmosphere of fun creativity, and an album that, like those great LPs by The Band 35, 40 years ago, has a sense of "place" about it. An album that announces San Diego has another great band on its hands.