Delta Spirit – The Waits Room EP

written by: November 16, 2010
Delta Spirit - The Waits Room EP album artwork Release Date: November 16,2010


San Diego’s Delta Spirit has shown great talent over the course of its short career. With the release of its sophomore full-length History From Below this past June, the band has been garnering praise from critics and commercial audiences alike. Only a few months later, the band offers up The Waits Room EP. It’s a five-song effort that sees Delta Spirit showcasing its love of a traditional folk styling with mixed results.

Two of the tracks on The Waits Room are re-imaginings from the History From Below album. While both “Bushwick Blues” and “Devil Knows You’re Dead” are not egregiously bad, they fail to offer anything of substance. The original versions boast stronger instrumentation that engages the listener, but on The Waits Room it feels as if these songs were unfinished demo versions that somehow made it onto the release. Hearing the stripped down arrangements is an interesting listen once or twice, but knowing the fully realized History From Below versions exist make these tracks disposable at best.

It is unlikely that The Waits Room will help bring in new devotees, but it does a great job of preaching to the converted.

The three original offerings are marginally better but still lack the emotional investment that Delta Spirit has exuded on previous releases. “The Flood” is about as archetypal as one can get within the folk genre and this keeps it from ever feeling unique. The vocals on the track are densely layered and would lend it to being sung by a gospel choir, but it also keeps it from ever breaking from the stringently established melody.

The lone track that displays Delta Spirit’s blues-based rock chops is “John Henry.” There’s potential due to the added instrumentation, but there is not a second of “John Henry” that feels original. It is derivative and utilizes many of the same rudimentary chord progressions that have been heard from many of the recent blues-rock revival acts or on any album featuring Jack White. It’s an absolute chore to not skip the track when it comes up due to its monotonous and lazy execution.

The Waits Room closes out with its strongest track, “My Dream.” Shaking off all the failures of the rest of the track listing, it rids itself of the stifling vocal layers and uninspired instrumentation to create a piece that is gripping for the entirety of its duration. It is not groundbreaking work, but it is the most imaginative and intriguing section of the entire release.

The Waits Room EP proves to be a release tailored exclusively to fans of Delta Spirit. It is unlikely that it will help bring in new devotees, but it does a great job of preaching to the converted. It is at best a disappointing follow-up to History From Below and hopefully proves to be an experiment instead of a complete overhaul of the band’s direction.