The Deslondes just released their self-titled debut album with New West Records. But it would be unfair to call them a new band. They’ve been making music for years, but this is just the first time they’ve released an album under the band name The Deslondes. They’re New Orleans-based and made up of the following members: Sam Doores (vocals/guitar), Riley Downing (vocals/guitar), Dan Cutler (vocals/stand-up bass), Cameron Snyder (vocals/percussion) and John James Tourville (pedal steel/fiddle). Their music borrows from a variety of influences. This includes country, southern rock, blues, jazz and 50s & 60s style R&B that dominated the New Orleans music scene. You can hear just as much Jimmie Rodgers, as Fats Domino in their music. This fusion of genres truly makes for an intriguing sound throughout their debut self-titled album.
The first track is “Fought The Blues And Won,” right away introducing listeners to their “old-school” sound that is throughout this album. There’s just as much blues present as there is country. Something that the listeners might miss on this song I would like to point out is the organ in the background, which really stood out to me when listening. The mid-tempo “Those Were The Days” reflects back on a relationship that could’ve happened. The banjo and tambourine drive the sound of the song, which is a simplistically great approach. The sound of a lonesome harmonica plays in “Heavenly Home,” which perfectly sets the tone for this bluesy song. It’s about a loner who was born to be on the run, but he comes across a girl whose heart he can finally call home. The harmonica playing in this song is top-notch.
The fast-paced “Less Honkin’ More Tonkin’” is a fun song you can easily find yourself tapping your feet along with. There’s plenty of steel guitar and fiddle to make any country fan smile. One of my favorites on the album is “Low Down Soul.” It’s about a man down on luck, hope and heartbroken. He’s a lost soul wondering what’s next for him. The vocals and instrumentation are flawless in this song and create the perfect mood for a heartbreak song. The lyrics are decidedly dark and somber. The Deslondes hit a home run with this one. They speed it back up though on “The Real Deal” and once again show the variety in their skilled repertoire. It’s another heartbreak song, but the man in this song is more hopeful about his future love prospects. He’s had horrible luck with love, but he’s determined to find the real deal soon. The harmonies in this song are brilliant and really hook the listener in.
“Still Someone” is drenched in steel guitar. While the instrumentation impresses me, I wanted more from the lyrics. I really wasn’t sure what The Deslondes were going for on this song and I wish the lyrics had been clearer about it. I’m impressed by the dynamic instrumentation again in “Time To Believe In.” It’s a somber-toned song where a man comes to terms with mortality. Once again a healthy dose of harmonica gives a song on this album the shot of blues it needs to really stand out. “Louise” features more great harmonies from The Deslondes. It’s about a guy loving a girl named Louise with all of his heart. But he has to leave her because he’s a rambling man whose life belongs to the open road. It’s a nice take on the classic rambling man love song.
“Simple And True” is another solid heartbreak song on the album. The Deslondes keep with the heartbreak theme on “Same Blood As Mine.” What makes this stand out over “Simple And True” is the fantastic harmonies once again from the band. This is really one of their strongest attributes and something they can never do enough of in my mind. And of course the instrumentation is once again great. I think that can go without saying with this group. The final song to close the album out is “Out On The Rise.” It’s the longest song on the album and arguably the best too. The piano and pedal steel guitar really help create a smoky feeling around this desperado type song. The instrumentation is so good that it kind of sucks you in. It’s a mark of the true talent The Deslondes possess.
The old-school approach and melting pot of genres on this album makes for a fun listen. The Deslondes hold my attention from start to finish with ease. The instrumentation and the harmonies are the absolute biggest strengths I take away after hearing The Deslondes on this album. I don’t think they could improve one bit in this area, as they nail these two aspects. The one area though I wanted more in was the songwriting department. I think it could be deeper and have more variety. While The Deslondes are great at making heartbreak songs, it felt like they touched on this theme a little too much and wanted to hear them tackle some other themes. If they step up in this area on their next album, the sky is the absolute limit for them. They’re a band to keep an eye on and I highly recommend checking out this debut album from them. This is an album I think many country fans can pick up and easily enjoy.