Review : Delta Rae - Carry the Fire
PopmattersI met the great rock entrepreneur Seymour Stein about ten years ago at the Fader Fort during South by Southwest. This was before the fest became so big and one could actually sit in a chair during a Fader Fort party. Stein saw my Iowa credentials and immediately starting grilling me about the state’s politicians. The Brooklyn native knew more about Iowa’s Senators and Representatives than most Hawkeyes. I was impressed by his depth and breadth of knowledge. We also talked about music. He asked me what Iowa band was going to be the next Slipknot in terms of popularity. I took his email address and sent him a few links to good local bands, but he never signed any—which was probably a smart idea financially.
Still, Stein came across as a sharp guy in many ways. He’s been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for launching the careers of such notables as Madonna, the Ramones, the Pretenders, Talking Heads, and many others. So when I heard the 70-year-old had signed Delta Rae, his first signing in many years, I was excited to hear the North Carolina band. Stein had called them the American equivalent to Mumford & Sons. There are superficial resembles between the two bands, but Stein must be losing his ears. Delta Rae’s new record is not that good.
The six-piece act consists of siblings Brittany, Ian, and Eric Hölljes with Elizabeth Hopkins, Mike McKee, and Grant Emerson. These folks have big voices and repeatedly use them to build to climaxes of sound. The strong singing evokes American gospel, especially on tunes such as “Bottom of the River”. However, too often the voices overwhelm the material, including on the aforementioned song where “the long way down” may be Hell, but it seems more like a rhetorical contrivance for hamming sincerity.
Consequently, some of the best songs are the quietest. The mellow vibe of “Forgive the Children We Once Were” does a good job of looking backwards at our personal faults for about the first two minutes, before going LOUD quiet LOUD quiet in a mawkish manner. The same is true for “Unlike Any Other” and “Country House” which are more sparsely produced so that when the volume and intensity does change this seems less artificial because the differences in volume are not as great....full text
RollingstoneFor the past couple of years, North Carolina's Delta Rae has crafted their unique blend of blue-eyed soul and Americana rock from a house in the woods. The result is the six-piece band's debut album, Carry the Fire, which will be released on June 19th. Rich four-part harmonies fill the album, especially evident on lush tracks like "If I Loved You" and "Morning Comes." The anthemic "Bottom of the River" is a ground-rattling fixture of the band's energetic live set, and a lively example of their Southern roots....full text
SunsetintherearviewDelta Rae, a six-piece band from North Carolina, is making a splash in 2012 with the release of their album Carry the Fire. The band has been revered in the press for their ability to create a full sound, and better yet, a full presence on stage. They have a firm grip on soul influences, they reflect the likes of Fleetwood Mac with their cast of multiple lead singers, and they have a keen ability to blend gospel, soul, folk, country, acapella and pop music into one unforgettable sound. Delta Rae songs are rooted in emotional experiences that most of us can relate to, but we may not have the creative skill to turn them into the poetic stories that Delta Rae has created for us. Their sound is one I don’t hear often today, and with this release, we are given an album sprinkled with subtle intricacies that prove their mastery of songwriting.
Similar to what we heard in Fun.’s Some Nights earlier this year, Delta Rae capitalizes on the idea of building and breaking a song down as it goes along. Many of the tracks on this album start relatively softly, often in the form of acapella, and they gradually build and build to a point of near explosion, only to hit a bridge that decomposes what they’ve created, leaving us a soft and simplistic glance at the work of art. Seconds later, the explosion occurs and the first few times it happens, it’s incredible. However, Delta Rae might be overusing this technique, as by the middle of the album, it becomes a bit predictable, leaving little room for guessing. That weakness, though, is most times overshadowed by their strength in lyrics, in creating a full story in not just words but also orchestration. This album really highlights Delta Rae’s ability to create songs that are crafted by true artists of our age....full text
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