Delta Spirit, "History From Below"

78 Billboard Rating

Delta Spirit is a California band with a Southern-fried sound. This is especially apparent on the group's third album, "History From Below," an attractive showcase of twangy, soulful rock balladry. With lyrical themes ranging from manipulative politics to painful love, the offering remains as mature as 2008's "Ode to Sunshine." And singer Matthew Vasquez's believable Southern drawl suits the album's folksy, down-to-earth personality. An alluring calmness is heard in the song "Ransom Man," where Delta Spirit employs a dreamy instrumental and achieves an antiqued sound. The group turns to a more raucous style with the track "Vivian," where harmonica and jangly guitar boast a backbone of strained and abused vocals. The guitar and harmonica styles carry over into the catchy "St. Francis," though they wear livelier masks. And the lengthy closer, "Ballad of Vitaly," captures both the lullaby and foot-stomping sides of "History From Below," an album content in its melancholy and candor. -- Courtney Baldasare