Delta Spirit Embrace Modern Pop Sounds On Sonic Charmer ‘One Is One’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

Photo by Andrew Thomas Lee

When Delta Spirit returned from hiatus in 2020 with What Is There, the self-produced album contained every over-the-top indulgence. The result was garbled, but now with Jason Kingsland (Band of Horses, Belle and Sebastian) on board to help produce, the band has kept their pop-rock grandiose but also scaled back when needed, leaving One is One in much better shape than its predecessor. 

Delta Spirit (Matthew Logan Vasquez, Kelly Winrich, Will McLaren, Jonathan Jameson, Brandon Young) have split the record in two as the first half fully embraces modern pop-rock sounds with synths, digital bleeps, and booming bass while the B-side falls into a late-era Beatles vibe with added stings, piano and backing vocals. 

The opener “Villains” starts slow and dramatic before dropping directly into dance-laden beats and pop banging before floating out via organs and electro keys. The big digital bangs continue as the neon glow of the title track can be blinding at times with its new wave gospel “hallelujahs” before an odd clanging ending. “What’s Done is Done” recalls some of the band’s more earthy roots, while clearly staying in the current electro-pop vein, even the piano ballad “Lottery Ticket” uses a sterilized boom-bap beat underneath the tale of woe.

The group successfully goes full-on dance floor rock with the buzzing and bopping “Pick It Up” (which is reminiscent of Spoon) before the cinematic shimmering “The Beginning” as excellently soaring keyboard lines and head-bobbing grooves combine to produce a clear album highlight. After this the band shifts gears for the darker folk tale of “Ghost of Caddo”, sprinkling in harpsichord around the large drums and eerie backing “Oh and Ah’s”.

Those backing vocals also shine throughout “Thoughts of Seneca” and “Jane Pauley”, two organic offerings which majestically employ the string work of Kristin Weber and Austin Hoke to marvelous effect. The band mixes up all of their sounds on the epic closer “On and On (Look Away)” as the track picks up steam and sounds, climaxing with grandeur and tying the full length together.  

Firmly back in the saddle, Delta Spirit has found its flow with the help of Kingsland and company as One is One uses contemporary pop trappings and tried-and-true musical soundscapes to deliver a return to form.     

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