Emerging from Detroit, the home of Motown and a city rich with musical roots in jazz and R&B; Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas plays as if they have been truly shaped by their city’s musical history. The band received some recognition for their 2013 EP, Demons which was released on Richard Gottehrer’s (Blondie, Dum Dum Girls) independent label, Instant Records. They have returned to follow it up with their debut album, Secret Evil. The 11 track album fosters an energy so intense and a personality so strong that one is over quite overwhelmed even on the first listen.
The album opens with “No Place Left To Hide” which gives us that bold first impression. Hernandez’s amped-up Amy Winehouse vocals and the Deltas’ dark blues beats make it clear that while they may have that 50’s jazz cabaret club feel, they are full of modern city attitude. Hernandez comes off extremely independent and a tad angry. Her voice is strong and deep and, while her melodies are playful enough, her lyrics and themes imply that she may not be the purest of souls. She sings songs about stealing someone’s man, leaving her man, chasing someone down, and lying. Hernandez comes across tough enough, but there is something about her that still seems sweet. She does not seem like a person to mess with yet not one to run from either.
Hernandez opens up a bit for the beautiful and melodic “Cry Cry Cry,” sounding a bit like Norah Jones. Things slow down and get just sensitive enough to show some emotion in Hernandez’s crisp, powerful vocals. Still, this is not a typical sad song about lost love. It seems more like her choice to leave someone for another as she sings sorrowfully, “I tried to let you know. I tried to let him go, but I kept on loving him instead.”
“Dead Brains” is a good pick-me-up, albeit still a morbid topic; it’s an even balance of upbeat rock energy and soulful vocal fluctuations give it some pop music potential. “Caught Up” and “Downtown Man” both have that edgy blues-rock swank that seems to be characteristic of Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas. The majority of the songs on Secret Evil sound like breakup songs, but for those who would rather punch their ex in the face than cry over him. They all have that undeniable rhythm and lively brass to them though, which makes them fun to listen to whether or not it’s with a broken heart.
Secret Evil is a modern blues album with some rock and a little jazz. It is feisty and full of moral temptation. It is spirited with a touch of cynicism. It exudes a personality that many listeners could find congruence in.