New Orleans collective expand their horizons
One of the more fascinating aspects of Hurray For The Riff Raff’s ascent to something approaching greatness has been the emergence of The Deslondes. Three of its five members – Sam Doores, Dan Cutler and Cameron Snyder – have history in Alynda Segarra’s outfit, prior to being joined by fellow travellers Riley Downing and John James Tourville. The music they first hammered into shape as The Deslondes borrowed from a similar set of diverse US influences, most notably old-school R&B and a lawless brand of country. These two elements dominated their self-titled debut of 2015, but the two-year interim seems to have broadened their stylistic reach. Again co-produced by Alabama Shakes affiliate Andrija Tokic, Hurry Home finds The Deslondes exploring the connections between surf, rock’n’roll, honkytonk and Southern soul to fashion a wonderfully interchangeable whole. It’s a porous dialogue that owes much to the band being blessed with five songwriters, all of whom share lead vocals.
The most distinctive voice belongs to guitarist Riley Downing, whose whiskery baritone brings to mind the gruff abstractions of Steve Earle or the late Robert Fisher, especially on languid beauties “Just In Love With You” and “Muddy Water”. The latter’s warm procession of smalltown memories plugs into the album’s themes of wanderlust and reverie. With its wistful harmonica, low-key ballad “Beautiful Friend” weighs the cost of life on the road against romantic constancy. Elsewhere, the rambling shuffle and adroit harmonies of “Déjà Vu And A Blue Moon” depict a world where home is the only true fix for the winds of the highway. This kind of broody rumination is periodically slapped aside by songs built for a creaky juke joint floor. “One Of These Lonesome Mornings” swings between ’50s rockabilly and roustabout country, with lashings of twang. “Every Well” sounds like a partystarter in a sweaty New Orleans bar, drenched in Hammond fills. And Tourville’s aptly titled “Hurricane Shakedown” recalls the clattering brio of Highway 61-era Dylan. An endless mutating treat from dawn ’til dusk.