Review: Delta Spirit — What Is There

Categories:  Music    The Arts
Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020 at 12:05 PM
Review: Delta Spirit — What Is There by Teddy Rankin

Delta Spirit’s first full-length in six years, “What Is There,” is the perfect addition to your fall playlist. The California rock group, led by frontman Matt Vasquez, excels at writing nostalgia-inducing tracks, while this record combines melodic earworms with heartfelt lyrics to create a truly genuine indie-rock experience.

Despite the feel-good nature of their soundscape, Delta Spirit had actually been on a hiatus since 2014 due to rising tensions between bandmates. In the break, Vasquez released three solo albums, and the rest of the band — Jonathan Jameson, Brandon Young, Kelly Winrich and William McLaren — kept up their playing ability by contributing to various other projects.

Delta Spirit’s break was the coil that sprang them into a more polished and tighter sound than before.

“What Is There” leads off with “The Pressure,” a driving song with a catchy chorus that will find any listener subconsciously tapping their foot. It’s a statement piece, announcing that Delta Spirit is back and still have it. The song is a full band effort, equally sharing lead guitar licks and drum fills; a sign of the group’s mended friendship. Vasquez finishes off the song with a quick unaccompanied lyric, singing, “You can’t fight the feeling when it’s coming around again.”

A few tracks later, Vasquez tells a story of gambling addiction in “How Bout It.” This song cannot be fully dissected without mentioning the beautiful music video. The visual achievement features scenes from everyday life in 30 different North American cities. The video illuminates the true meaning of the piece; we all develop different coping mechanisms to get us through life. The track crescendos into a screaming guitar solo when the subjects of the video are seen living life to its fullest potential.

Throughout the rest of the album, Delta Spirit croons hopeful songs about the reclamation of a lost romance. Songs like “Can You Ever Forgive Me,” “Better Now” and “Home Again” also allude to the band’s own reunification. Considering the band’s recent history, there are certainly some traces of subtext.  

“What Is There” closes out on the title track; a six and a half minute soft-spoken ballad. The song is set in front of a backdrop of ambient noise that sounds like crashing waves or a rainstorm. Delta Spirit dispatches with the subtle references here and directly addresses the mystery surrounding the new album. Vasquez’ lyrics in the chorus say it all: “If it’s one more record, let it play on forever / Keep flipping the B-side to the A / May it remain in our memory / The joy we found in the journey / Never needed to get there anyway / What is there?” 

Delta Spirit’s love of making music shines through on “What Is There.” The themes of mending relationships and enjoying life’s journey make each of the 10 tracks relatable to everyone. Because the album comes from such genuine personal experience, it radiates a warm and honest glow.   

“What Is There” will make you want to text that friend you haven't spoken to in a while. 

Teddy Rankin is a music writer for The Spectator. He can be reached at edinboro.spectator@gmail.com.

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