‘Delta Deep’ blends blues, rock and soul in a way that’s fresh, enjoyable
Together, the members of Delta Deep, led by Def Leppard’s Phil Collen, have more experience, talent and passion for music than many of their fellow contemporaries combined.
What really separates Delta Deep, though, is the way they blend blues, hard rock, soul and hints of R&B into one collective album. In fact, they’ve often been described as “What Led Zeppelin would sound like with Aretha Franklin and Chaka Khan singing lead,” and it makes for some memorable tracks due to the diverse influences.
Joining Collen in the group are Rob DeLeo, bassist with Stone Temple Pilots, Forrest Robinson drummer for TLC, India.Arie, Engelbert Humperdinck, Joe Sample & The Crusaders, and Debbi Blackwell-Cook, who used to sing background vocals for Michael Buble, Gregory Hines, and also sang background vocals with Luther Vandross.
Most of the tracks on the album are up-beat and have lots of glossy production value. The rock vibe is especially apparent on songs like “Down in the Delta,” “Shuffle Sweet,” the guitar-heavy “Mistreated” and the ballad “Treat Her Like Candy.”
Other songs, such as the upbeat “Bang the Lid,” and “Miss Me” are closer to authentic blues tracks. Having both a male and a female singer gives the album an extra punch, also, and offers some much-needed contrasting vocal sounds.
To be sure, this album likely will rub traditionalists the wrong way only because it throws away traditional rules for what a blues track has to sound like. That said, though, it’s an absolute joy to hear.
While both Blackwell-Cook and Collen do great jobs at singing, I found myself liking the songs with Blackwell-Cook featured just a TAD bit more than Collen, maybe because I tend to find female-fronted blues acts to be far-too rare. The best songs, it’d be reasonable to conclude, are the ones in which both of them share vocals such as “Private Number” or “Shuffle Sweet.”
The best thing this album does, though, is offer hearty songs with bone-crushing guitars, pounding drums, joyful vocals with a touch of experimentation to keep things interesting.
And while this recorded album is a solid listen, part of me longs to hear what they’d be like live in person, only because most times when a group of veteran musicians get together to form a band like this one, nothing can compare to hearing them in person. I’m willing to go on a ledge and say that’s just as true with Delta Deep.