Album Review: Delta Spirit – Into The Wide – LA Music Blog
West Coast natives Delta Spirit’s California roots permeate their music. They’re in the song titles and the all-American, sun-drenched sound, so knowing that the group wrote their fourth full-length album in a windowless room in Brooklyn had me wondering if Into the Wide would be noticeably different from its predecessors. The band had been teasing the new album for weeks with 15-second previews of each song, and after months of waiting, I was very excited to finally hear it in its entirety.
“Push It” leads listeners into the album, and this introductory track boasts the same harmonic choruses present in the band’s previous three albums. The song hits on attempted resilience against the crushing weight of forces of darkness in America. “From Now On” also centers on perseverance, but with more of a romantic focus as frontman Matt Vasquez’s vocals rise above resounding guitars as he sings, “May your love never break you, keep your heart on your sleeve, and don’t let anyone else tell you different.” Cue the “awwwww’s” because Delta Spirit knows how to make any subject sound uplifting.
Into the Wide’s impressive story lines and lyricism are encompassed by brimming guitar, bass, and percussion, which are endlessly upbeat despite the subject matter of the songs. “Live On” is an inspiring anti-bullying statement that continues the album’s central theme of survival, while “Take Shelter” pulls listeners in instantly. It’s the first key-heavy song so far; guitars take a backseat to the drums that truly drive the song forward in this explosive track.
“Hold My End Up” is significantly slower at first, only to build, with greater contrast, into the same powerful climax we have come to expect from Delta Spirit. The melancholic theme pulls where the instruments push in a careful word-to-melody equilibrium.
“Into the Wide” maintains a sedated tone but transitions quickly into the more upbeat sound found in “Language of the Dead,” which promotes individuality as opposed to relying on the idolization of past musical heroes. “For My Enemy” reinforces the constant message of mental, emotional, and physical survival against oppressive forces. The song recounts internal conflict and disappoint through Vasquez’s admissions, “I told myself I’d never lift a hand in hatred. I was wrong.” “Patriarch” tells the story of Juliette, a religiously converted and heavily influenced girl for whom a test of unwavering faith results in suicide.
“Interlude” is just that, a brief, haunting instrumental intro into “War Machine,” a track whose name says it all. Delta Spirit’s music often takes a clear anti-war stance (see “People, Turn Around” in Ode To Sunshine), but “War Machine” is more personal. Vasquez is indignant at the destruction of war and its grip on the people and country he loves.
By this point, Into the Wide has hit on the topics of death, war, bullying, and anguish before it moves into the final track, “The Wreck,” a beautiful, evocative homage to Vasquez’s wife. The piano-led song closes the album on a much slower note than the previous tracks, drawing more attention to the words and making the tribute all the more powerful.
Moving from the Sunshine State to the Big Apple, from Surf City to a secluded writing studio in Brooklyn, and then facing the immediate obstacle of the destruction of their studio by NY’s Hurricane Sandy has caused Delta Spirit to grown exponentially in their songwriting. Into The Wide has an uncanny ability to sound like a rock party album while simultaneously hitting on some of the most immediate struggles of modern American life.