PORTLAND’S The Delines, the combo based way up there in the north-east but who definitely have a little of the Memphis thing in their bloodstream, are all set to return with their third studio album in February next year. Today, with an easy, pretty fanfare, they’re pulling back the veil on what to expect with the opening track, “Little Earl”, the video for which we’ve got for you here; and what an easy diamond of a tune, warmed by organ and brass and the dulcet honey of Amy Boone. She got this nailed.
“Little Earl” sets the tone for that upcoming full set, The Sea Drift, which the band describe as “songs and stories found drifting up and down the Gulf Coast.”
“‘Little Earl’ was one of the first tracks I brought to The Sea Drift rehearsal sessions,” says Willy Vlautin, the band’s songwriting powerhouse; “and as it turns out the one that helped create the sound and feel of the entire record.
“It’s a soul/Tony Joe White-inspired groove, and Cory Gray’s horn and string arrangements set the cinematic tone for two brothers who get in a shoplifting-gone-wrong incident at a mini-mart outside of Port Arthur, Texas.
“I love songs that just drop you in the middle of a scene and that’s what we tried to do here.”
That accompanying video was shot by Jordan Mosser in and around Galveston, Texas, through the windows of a car cruising around as day turns to night; it serves as a backdrop for that salutary tale of the titular Little Earl and his brother, “bleeding in the backseat” after a robbery gone wrong.
Amy confirms: “I think the songs on The Sea Drift have the kind of ‘realness’ that Tony Joe was after – romantic realism.”
The album transposes The Delines’ melodic acuity into 11 Raymond Carver-esque short, affecting tales from the US Gulf Coast; aside from the tragedy hanging in the balance of this single, there’s “Drowning in Plain Sight”, in which a woman drives aimlessly in crisis; a couple’s relationship finally breaking down forever in “All Along The Ride”; and a woman happening upon her boyfriend’s arrest in “Surfers in Twilight”, among so many potent, potted others.
It’s also the first new material since Amy’s horrible car accident and subsequent year-long hospitalisation in 2016, which delayed the final touches to their 2019 album, The Imperial.
Willy says: “The Sea Drift sessions were also the first time since Amy had been injured that she felt strong and confident in the studio, and you can really hear it on this record. There’s strength to her voice, the strength of someone who’s overcome a lot of trauma and pain.
“The idea for the The Sea Drift began with Amy and my mutual love of Tony Joe White. We used to have conversations about his records and she’d always joke, ‘Just write me ‘Rainy Night in Georgia.’ Jesus, what a tall order, but I guess in my own way I started trying.”
Hey, they’re on tour in February too in support of the new album, with dates for your diaries as follows:
Wednesday, February 9th, Cork, Live At St Luke’s;
Thursday, February 10th, Belfast, First Presbyterian Church, Rosemary Street;
Friday, February 11th, Kilkenny, Set Theatre;
Saturday, February 12th, Dublin, Liberty Hall Theatre;
Sunday, February 13th, Bury, The Met;
Monday, February 14th, Bristol, The Fleece;
Tuesday, February 15th, Pocklington, Arts Centre;
Wednesday, February 16th, Newcastle, Gosforth Civic Theatre;
Thursday, February 17th, Glasgow, Saint Luke’s;
Friday, February 18th, Nottingham, Metronome;
Saturday, February 19th, London, Islington, Union Chapel;
Monday, February 21st, Brussels, AB Club;
Tuesday, February 22nd, Wageningen, Netherlands, Theater Junushoff;
Wednesday, February 23rd, Utrecht, Netherlands, TivoliVredenburgh;
Thursday, February 24th, Groningen, Netherlands, De Oosterpoort;
Friday, February 25th, Eeklo, Belgium, N9;
Tuesday, April 19th, Oslo, Askerkulturhus;
Wednesday, April 20th, Stockholm, venue tbc;
Thursday, April 21st, Goteborg, Pustervik;
Wednesday, April 22nd, Malmö, venue tbc;
Thursday, April 23rd, Odense, Denmark, Dexter;
Friday, April 24th, Copenhagen, Stairway;
Saturday, April 25th, Hamburg, Nochtspiecher;
Sunday, April 26th, Oberhausen, Germany, Zentrum Altenberg;
Monday, April 27th, Hamont-Achel, Belgium, aha!;
Tuesday, April 28th, Venlo, Netherlands, Grenswerk and
Wednesday, April 29th, Amsterdam, Paradiso Noord.
The Delines’ The Sea Drift will be released digitally, on CD and on vinyl by Decor Records on February 11th, and is already available to pre-order over at Bandcamp.