“Delta Man” – Bobby Allison and Gerry Spehar

4 stars (out of 5)

1

Here we go; it’s the first album review of 2022 and we’re starting with on a high. “Delta Man” isn’t just an album packed with great songs, it’s also a wonderful celebration of over forty years of friendship and collaboration between two very talented and very different singer/songwriters. The fifteen (quantity as well as quality) songs on the album span almost the entire period of their friendship. Bobby and Jerry bring very different strengths to the partnership; Bobby’s a songwriter with country and honkytonk influences and a great voice who’s had a fairly conventional ride through the music business (if such a thing exists), while Gerry pulls in influences from rock and jazz (among other styles), plays a mean guitar and took time out from performing in the mid-eighties to bring up his family in LA before coming back to music full-time in 2017. The varying musical influences and career paths make for a very potent writing partnership.

The opening song of the album is an example of the almost random art of hitmaking. “Kinda Like Love” is a fabulous piece of songwriting that should have been a huge country hit. It’s amazing that it’s never been picked up by a major artist (although it’s still not too late, you can imagine a Luke Combs cover working really well). It was covered by Molly Hatchet in the eighties, but didn’t make a huge impact. All the characters are there – the beautiful young woman, the handsome cowboy and the slightly jealous onlookers in the bar and then there’s the classic lyrical and melodic hook in the chorus. Maybe there’s still time for this one.

The rest of the album is split fairly equally between Bobby’s conventional country/rock/blues and Gerry’s more eclectic stylings and vocal delivery. It’s noticeable that there are a lot of musical references running through the album and hints at influences from a wide variety of artists. “Rockin’ On a Country Dance Floor”, with Bobby Allison’s pure country vocal is a great example; there are nods in the direction of The Allmans and Jerry Lee Lewis and instrumental quotes from The Beatles and Roy Orbison. All of that and a song that’s great fun as well.

And that’s just two songs; there’s plenty of variety across the album, from the slow country waltz “The Good Life” with piano and pedal steel and hints of Eagles’ “Take It to the Limit” in the harmonies and the and the descending IV-III-II-I chord progression, to the Bo Diddley feel of “Delta Man” and the rockabilly styling of “Train Train Train” to the “Blue Bayou” feel of “In the Pass”. With powerful lyrical messages as well, there’s plenty to keep the interest over fifteen tracks and forty years. Welcome to 2022.

“Delta Man” is out on in the UK on Friday January 21st.

Comments

One Response to ““Delta Man” – Bobby Allison and Gerry Spehar”
  1. Gerry Spehar says:

    Allan:

    Thanks for your great review of Delta Man. Much appreciated by both Bobby and me.

    Gerry