Delta Spirit - Ode to Sunshine (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Delta Spirit

Ode to Sunshine (2008)


Despite possessing all the elements for a kick-ass Southern rock revival record (full-throated frontman whose voice boasts a soulfulness too often missing from modern rock music; a light-hearted, alcohol-ready vibe to their songs; honky-tonk piano riffs; a rock-steady rhythm section to anchor the music), Delta Spirit's Ode to Sunshine is not quite a rock album.

The problem seems to come in two places, the first being the songwriting. Delta Spirit are a lot like the Cold War Kids, another California-bred indie rock band, in that their songs are all steeped in religion. Songs on Sunshine vary from vaguely spiritual (the groove-heavy first single "Trashcan") to openly Catholic (the passable but forgettable "Children") and while this is by no means a big issue, it can be distracting at times. No one likes to be preached at, even if the message is wrapped up inside bluesy pop songs.

The second issue is the guitar sound, which is pushed back to near silence on Sunshine. Considering how hook-heavy and ballad-ridden the album is, one would expect there to be more solos and riffing to match the stadium-ready voice of lead singer Mathew Vasquez. Sadly, the guitars do little more than strum and pluck politely in the background, letting the vocals and piano do most of the legwork. Sometimes the formula works (like on the super-catchy "Streetwalker") and sometimes it falls on its face ("People Turn Around").

Catchy and pleasant, but ultimately flawed, Ode to Sunshine is a solid effort from this up-and-coming band. There is a rock band trapped inside Delta Spirit that is dying to escape, and if the band is able to harness their Southern revival hymns with the bravado of `70s guitar rock, they'll be a force to be reckoned with.