Delta Spirit: In an entirely different place

By Kelli Raulerson Photos by Benjamin Robson

March 5, 2015

After kicking off their spring tour this week, Delta Spirit feverishly took the stage to a packed Visulite Theatre in Charlotte on Friday night. And after energetically driving through two songs off their fourth studio album Into the Wide, lead singer Matthew Vasquez shouted out to the crowd –

“Hey Char… leston?”

Immediately recognizing the error, he retracted, “Damn it. I’ve only had three hours of sleep. I know I’m in Charlotte. My best friend lives here!”

The crowd quickly forgave the slip up as the band launches back into their set.

To be fair, it’s tough to blame him for the innocent mixup. Since its beginning, Delta Spirit has been all over the map. They formed ten years ago in Orange County, California when bassist Jonathan Jameson and drummer Brandon Young stumbled upon Vasquez in the busking scene. The group soon added multi-instrumentalist & vocalist Kelly Winch and set out to define a sound uniquely their own.

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Matt Vasquez photo by Benjamin Robson.

That journey produced several albums, demonstrating their ability and range but never quite capturing their full potential. Having a desire for new surroundings and what that might bring to their creative process, the band uprooted and moved across country to New York City two years ago to start on their latest release. Using the city as their muse, they were able to use change and all that comes with it to find inspiration.

Their creative process was halted, however, before they could finish the album. Hurricane Sandy destroyed their studio leaving them to rebuild and rework some of the album’s material. What resulted is their best album to date, one that illustrates the sublimity in life’s experiences whether in its dark shadows or in its light.

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Photo by Benjamin Robson

As the name implies, Into the Wide is grand in scope, offering Delta’s usual swells and rousing choruses. It’s a song collection that captures the challenges and frustration of chasing a dream. But it’s on this album that the pursuit to mirror their live sound finally ends.

Delta Spirit heavily featured Into the Wide as expected on Friday, In its fullness, without missing a beat. Swirling instrumentation supported Vasquez’s vocals, creating near-psychedelic synth grounded by a more contemporary chord progression. Lights swirled the room for effect, not as a distraction but a complement to the music.

The band is at their best with this album and it’s most obvious in their live show. Long riffs, hammering drums, rousing choruses and a new focus on keys drive forward harder than ever, demonstrating the band’s force and commanding attention. The same youthful energy and rebellion that propelled their early songs is still present, but now is balanced with experience and wisdom that only life on the road brings.

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Matt Vaquez photo by Benjamin Robson.

Music is fundamentally about conveying a feeling, conjuring with compassion the peril and exhilaration, the success and missteps of our daily lives, the longing and unwavering hope we possess as life ebbs and flows. Into the Wide illuminates the human condition demonstrating our innate drive to more than merely exist.

Aside from the geographical misstep in their introduction, Delta Spirit’s set was flawless. And in a way, our physical location wasn’t relevant on Friday. For 90 minutes, at least, we were wherever they wanted us to be, in an entirely different place than before.

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